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October 17, 2019

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India religious battle near end

The end, perhaps, is now nigh in the epic legal dispute over a religious site that has sparked thousands of deaths, with India’s top court wrapping up hearings yesterday.

Judges are now expected to rule on the ownership of the area claimed by both Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya in northern India by November 17.

The Supreme Court hearings ended in drama yesterday as Rajeev Dhawan, a lawyer in his 90s for one of the Muslim parties, tore up a map purportedly showing the temple existed in ancient India.

As a Hindu lawyer appearing for a Muslim party, Dhawan faced abuse and death threats.

From 16th-century emperors to deadly riots the labyrinthine legal saga dates back more than a century.

The tussle centers on an area of land measuring just 1.1 hectares the small city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

India’s majority Hindus believe that Lord Ram, one of their most important deities, was born there. They also believe the Muslim conqueror Babur, the first Mughal emperor, razed the temple in the 1500s to make way for a mosque, the Babri Masjid.

The first legal dispute was in 1885. And in 1949, idols of Lord Ram appeared inside the mosque in a staged “miracle.” Muslims objected and both parties went to court.

In 1992 a Hindu mob estimated at 200,000, aiming to symbolically lay the first stone of a new temple, razed the mosque, sparking some of the worst religious riots since partition in 1947, killing around 2,000 people, mainly Muslims.


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