India's Supreme Court have today ruled in favour of a Hindu group in a long-running battle over a centuries-old religious site also claimed by Muslims, in a verdict that could raise tension between the two communities.
A three-judge bench comprising of SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal, and Dharam Veer Sharma of the Allahabad High Court in September 2010 said that both Hindus and Muslims are joint title holders of the land.
Hindu hardliners want a temple built on the site, now barricaded off decades after a 16th-century mosque there was demolished during 1992 riots that left 2,000 people dead.
Owaisi also said that "those who demolished the Babri Masjid" have been asked to form a trust and start the construction of the Ram temple, PTI reported.
Earlier, authorities banned the assembly of more than four people at one place in and around Ayodhya, a town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The decision comes after the Muslim side in the case challenged a 2010 verdict of Allahabad High Court that chose to distribute the land of the Masjid between contesting parties. Its razing led to riots in which more than 2,000 people, a lot of them Muslims, were killed.
Many Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram.
Pronouncing the first judgment in the Ayodhya verdict, the Supreme Court has dismissed the Shia Waqf board's petition.
AIMIM President and Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi has said that the Ayodhya verdict is a case of the victory of belief over facts. The judge, who was elevated to the apex court on May 13, 2016, also concurred with the majority verdict in Indian Young Lawyers Association versus State of Kerala, popularly called the Sabarimala case, in holding that the practice of prohibiting women of menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple was discriminatory and violative of women's fundamental rights.
In the 16th century, however, a mosque was built on the hill.
Ahead of the verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged calm and security was tightened around the Supreme Court building in New Delhi and Ayodhya, where 5,000 paramilitary forces were deployed.
Announcing 5-acre land in Ayodhya for the Sunni Wakf Board, the Supreme Court observed, "Muslims should not be deprived of a structure, they will get an alternative site for masjid". "It's a historic moment for Hindus", he said.
The BJP had campaigned for years for a temple to be built at Ayodhya. State Police Chief OP Singh has said people instigating violence will be charged under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
The FO expressed concern that "a process of re-writing history is underway in India in order to recast it in the image of a "Hindu Rashtra" in pursuance of the Hindutva ideology", adding that the trend is also fast affecting India's major institutions.