By Muhammad Luqman
India’s Supreme Court has awarded Hindus control of a disputed religious site in the town of Ayodhya for the construction of a temple, in a landmark verdict announced on Saturday.
Muslims will be given five acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, the top court ruled.
In a unanimous decision over the site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, the five-judge bench asked the government to set up a trust that will construct a temple for the deity Ram.
“The judgement is not satisfactory but we respect it. We will have discussions and then decide further course of action,” Zafaryab Jilani, Sunni Waqf Board lawyer, was quoted as saying by NDTV news channel.
Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, termed the verdict “controversial,” according to Al-Jazeera report.
“The judges tried their best to have a kind of a balance but ultimately it’s the mystery of the faith over rule of law, because they [judges] said that we can’t be doing anything about the Hindu belief and if they believe that Ram was born here … we have to accept it,” he said.
“Belief is good for the purposes of religion, but can it become a basis to resolve property disputes?”
Pakistan has questioned the ruling by the Indian top court on the ownership of a centuries-old mosque in northern Indian town of Ayodhya.
“The verdict by the Indian Supreme Court will put more pressure on already suppressed Muslim community,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said while speaking to a private news channel.
“Pakistan Foreign Office will issue an official statement on the matter after reading details of the verdict,” Qureshi said.
He further questioned why the verdict was announced today of all days.
“The Indian Supreme Court after a long time announced the verdict today. Why did the Indian court announce the verdict today?” he asked.
The minister said the decision which coincided with the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor will exert more pressure on already suppressed community.
The foreign minister added, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was sowing the seeds of hatred with its politics of hatred.
The dispute centres around who should control the land upon which lie the ruins of the 16th-century Babri Mosque, destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also questioned the timing of the verdict.
In a post on Twitter, the minister said the decision by the Indian court regarding the Babri Mosque land dispute on the same day as the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor could not be starker.
“The contrast between the Indian SC’s verdict on Babri Mosque strengthening the Hindutva creed and Pakistan’s opening of the Kartarpur Corridor – both on the same day – could not be more stark!,” Mazari tweeted.
On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed the verdict, saying it had “amicably” ended the decades-old dispute.
“The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes,” Modi tweeted.
The 460-year-old mosque was demolished in 1992 by Hindu mobs triggering violence that left about 2,000 people dead across India, most of them Muslims.
Muslims in this Hindu holy town, however, have expressed disappointment at the verdict, according to Indian media reports.