Ayodhya, the site of communal violence in 1992 when Hindu extremists destroyed a 16th century mosque, has been under a heavy security presence in the last few days in anticipation of today’s court announcement, which saw the site divided between Hindus and Muslims. Before 1992, the site had long been a focus for Hindu extremists, who alleged that the Mughal emperor Babur had destroyed a temple on the site. The destruction and ensuring riots also helped to galvanise the BJP. The site is especially important since it is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Ram:
A court in India has said that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims, lawyers for the Hindu petitioners say. However in a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus, lawyers said. Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect. The destruction of the mosque by Hindu extremists led to widespread rioting in which some 2,000 people died.
No ruling was ever going to be welcomed by all sides (both sides are likely to appeal). Nore is there an easy answer. We know Hindu extremists destroyed the mosque, but how far back does one go (if indeed Babur destroyed a temple)? Who holds the ‘rights’ to the site? Does one destruction cancel out another one? Does the site’s relative holiness to either religion have any bearing?
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