From 'Hindu Sthan' to 'Lord's Land': How Ayodhya Verdict Made Headlines in Papers Across India Today
The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a 'prominent site' and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.
New Delhi: In a historic judgment in the hugely sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, the Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Centre to form a trust within three months to build a Ram temple at the disputed site. The Sunni Waqf Board, which was a party to the seven-decade-old title suit, should be given an alternate five-acre land within three months at some other place in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque, the five-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said in a unanimous 1045-page judgement.
Here’s a look at how newspapers across India covered the historic verdict on Sunday morning. For News18’s extensive coverage on the Ayodhya ruling, click here.
Authorities stepped up security nationwide for the decision and Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for calm, fearing the final ruling on an issue that has been a focal point of Hindu-Muslim tensions for decades could again trigger unrest. By late Saturday, no incidents had been reported.
Devout Hindus believe that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya some 7,000 years ago but that a mosque was constructed on top of his birthplace in the 16th century. In the 1980s, as the BJP began to strengthen, pressure grew for the mosque to be replaced by a new Hindu temple at the 2.8-acre site.
In 1992, a mob estimated to number 200,000 reduced the mosque to rubble, unleashing some of the worst religious riots since independence, killing some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims. The verdict, it is hoped, will put an end to a decades-old legal wrangle.
Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, and say the site was holy for Hindus long before the Mughals built the Babri mosque there in 1528.
In Ayodhya, the streets were largely deserted and security personnel patrolled the main road to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Residents were glued to their televisions and phones for news of the ruling.
The Muslim parties, through the Sunni Waqf Board, argued that their possession of the land is evident from the fact that they received grants for maintenance of the mosque dating back to 1528.
Hindus say the mosque was built on a site that was already holy for Hindus. Lawyers representing Ram Lalla submitted archaeological evidence that they said proved the site has long held religious sanctity for Hindus.
Construction of a "grand temple" in Ayodhya has long been an election promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which secured a second term with a landslide general election victory this year.
Restrictions were placed on gatherings in some places and internet services were suspended. Elsewhere, police monitored social media to curb rumours.
Travelogues, mainly written by Father Joseph Tieffenthaler and Montgomery Martin, gave detailed accounts of “faith and belief of the Hindus” based on the “sanctity which they ascribed to the place of birth of Lord Ram and of the actual worship by the Hindus at the Janmasthan”.
The Muslim parties could not produce a record of ownership for the 300 years after the construction of the mosque in 1528, during which period it also could not furnish any evidence that Muslims offered ‘namaz’ in that mosque.
The survey report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) indicated a “pre-existing underlying structure dating back to the 12th century” and in its findings it indicated that “the underlying structure” was of Hindu origin.
The Hindu parties had provided enough evidence, in the form of various oral testimonies and travellers’ remarks, to show that even during the existence of the mosque Hindus had laid strong claim to both the inner and outer courtyard of the disputed site.
In the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010, the specific questions like the birthplace of Lord Ram or whether a temple was destroyed to create the mosque which was subsequently demolished on December 16, 1992, were mentioned categorically with the opinion of each judge stated clearly.
The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi ruled that Hindus will get land subject to certain conditions, and directed the Centre to allot an alternative 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at either a "prominent" place in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh or in the 67 acres surrounding the disputed site that were acquired by the government in 1993.
The Centre will make suitable provisions by handing over the land to the trust, the top court said.