India’s Supreme Court ruling on the Ayodhya case has extinguished a 150 year long inter-religious fire. The Court has ruled that the disputed holy site in Ayodhya in northern India should be given to Hindus who want to build a temple. The five Supreme Court judges based their unanimous decision on the Hindu belief that Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The ruling is another win for Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who made the restoration of the Ayodha temple a focal point of their Hindutva re-election agenda.
The land previously housed the Babri Mosque, built by Mughal Emperor Babar in the 16th Century. In December 1992, BJP members led a march of thousands to Babri Mosque, in which it was reduced to rubble. This sparked riots which killed almost 2,000 people and is a fundamental moment in the failure of the secularisation of India. Due to the sensitive history, the Court ordered Muslims be given five acres of land to construct a mosque. Zafaryab Jilani, the lawyer of the Muslim claimants, the Sunni Waqf Board, stated that they respected the judgement but may file an appeal as “five acres has no value.”
Following the verdict, protests and parties have been prohibited in Ayodhya, due to fear of outbreaks of violence. Thousands of police have been deployed to the area and 500 individuals have been arrested due to violence or intent to act.
📸: Babri Masjid Destruction, 1992.