Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, appealed for peace as security was tightened across India ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on Saturday, on a decades-old land title dispute between Hindus and Muslims.
The razing of Ayodhya’s Babri mosque by Hindu mobs in 1992 led to deadly riots in which more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.
Hindus claim a temple to their god Ram predated the mosque and want to build a new one at the site, while Muslims want a new mosque.
The issue continues to provoke tensions between majority Hindus and Muslims, who account for about 14 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion population.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi assembled on Saturday morning and was due to read out the judgement.
In a series of tweets, Modi said the Ayodhya verdict will not be anybody’s victory’s or loss”, adding that it was the priority of the country’s citizens to maintain harmony.
“I appeal to countrymen that it should be our priority to strengthen our tradition of maintaining peace and harmony after the Ayodhya verdict,’’ Modi said.
Several thousand troops have been deployed in and around Ayodhya, along with local police trained to contain riots and bomb disposal squads, according to news reports.
Security was tightened and schools and colleges were closed in several states including Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is situated. The government has also increased the security provided to the five judges.
The Supreme Court is looking into appeals against a verdict of a High Court in 2010 that the site should be divided between one Muslim group and two Hindu groups.
Edited by Halima Sheji/Ali Baba-Inuwa