India’s Supreme Court has awarded Hindus control of a disputed religious site in the town of Ayodhya for the construction of a temple. The ruling paves the way for Hindus to build a temple where the Babri Mosque once stood, but many worry that the decision will raise sectarian tensions.
The five supreme court judges based their unanimous and historic judgment on Hindus’ claim that the site is the birthplace of the god Ram.
They ruled that a mosque that had stood on the site since the 16th century, and was the basis of the Muslim claim to Ayodhya, was “not built on vacant land” and that the Hindu belief could not be disputed, according to theguardian.
Muslims will be given five acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, the top court ruled on Saturday, aljazeera reported.
The decision allows Hindus to construct a temple, which they have planned since the Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992, nytimes told.
The supreme court judges said plans for the temple would be drawn up within the next three months.
Muslims said they prayed at the mosque for generations until 1949, when Hindu activists placed idols of Ram.
The 460-year-old mosque was demolished in 1992 by Hindu mobs triggering nationwide religious violence that left about 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.
The Supreme Court ruling handed Prime Minister Narendra Modi a major victory as he seeks to recast India as a Hindu nation and shift it from its secular foundation.
Muslims fear that the decision will relegate them to second-class citizens and potentially empower Hindu extremists.
Muslim-majority Pakistan, India’s rival neighbor, responded to the decision on Saturday.
“This decision has shredded the veneer of so-called secularism of India by making clear that minorities in India are no longer safe; they have to fear for their beliefs and for their places of worship,” the foreign office in Islamabad said in a statement.
“The international community, the United Nations and other human rights organisations in particular should play their role by restraining India from its pursuit of an extremist ideology.”