India braces for holy site ruling
Associated Press Writer
AYODHYA, India (AP) – From a distance – and few are allowed to get close – the simple white tent housing the modest idol appears no more threatening than any of the thousands of other Hindu shrines in a town renowned for its temples.
But that makeshift temple, and the ruins of the demolished mosque it sits upon, stand at the center of a religious dispute that has shaken the core of modern India and led to repeated outbreaks of Hindu-Muslim violence.
An Indian court had been scheduled to finally issue a ruling Friday in the 60-year-old case and decide whether the site should be given to the Hindu community to build a gigantic temple to the god Rama or should be returned to the Muslim community so it can rebuild the 16th-century Babri Mosque.
But on Thursday the Supreme Court postponed that ruling and scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to consider a further delay to allow the rival communities a chance to work out the 150-year-old dispute themselves, said Mukul Rohatgi, a lawyer who argued for the delay.
“The Supreme Court felt a last attempt should be made to resolve this amicably,” he said.
Though there are no signs of a repeat of the communal violence that killed 2,000 people in nationwide rioting in 1992 and nearly 1,000 more in the state of Gujarat in 2002, India is worried.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told journalists earlier this month that the judgment was one of his top concerns, and, in an extraordinary move, his Cabinet bought half-page newspaper advertisements appealing for calm.
“Now, the way the country handles this the aftermath will have a profound impact on the evolution of our country,” Singh said.
Thousands of extra police and paramilitary troops were sent to the state of Uttar Pradesh to maintain the peace.