STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Settling a fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court in a historic verdict on Saturday backed the construction of a Ram temple by a government trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya, and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the Hindu holy town. Delivering a unanimous verdict on a case that has long polarised the country and frayed the secular tapestry of Indian society, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the site was undisputed, and he is symbolically the owner of the land. Justice Gogoi is due to retire on November 17.
Ayodhya verdict coincides with 30th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall: ModiNew Delhi: The historic verdict of the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya issue on Saturday coincided with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a fact highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he urged people to shun any bitterness and come together to build a new India.Settling a fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the apex court in a historic verdict backed the construction of a Ram temple by a trust at the disputed site, and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the Hindu holy town.The landmark verdict on Saturday coincided with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, a pivotal event in world history which signalled beginning of German reunification.Modi in his address to the nation on Saturday also invoked the significance of the day, saying on November 9 the fall of the Berlin Wall took place.“Today is November 9 when the Berlin Wall fell and two different streams had come together and taken a new resolve,” Modi said.“Today is also the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, in which both India and Pakistan have a partnership.”He said the Ayodhya verdict of November 9 tells us to “live together and move forward”.“Today’s message is to stay united and grow together,” the prime minister said.India’s credo of unity in diversity was visible in its totality after the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute as all sections of the society accepted it with an open heart, he said, while urging people to shun bitterness and negativity for the sake of a new India.Search giant Google depicted the anniversary with a special doodle which showed two persons hugging each other while standing on a piece of a fallen wall that earlier divided the two sides.The crumbling wall is surrounded by vegetation whose pattern reflects the letters ‘G-O-O-G-L-E’, two letters on either side of the wall, while an ‘O’ shadowed on the boundary of a fallen piece of the wall.Google, in a statement, said the doodle has been created by Berlin-based guest artist Max Guther, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a peaceful revolution that signalled the simultaneous end of the Cold War and the beginning of German reunification.“Tor auf!’ (‘Open the gate!’) roared the crowds gathered at the Berlin Wall on this evening in 1989,” it said.“Winds of change were blowing across Europe as new leadership in Russia, Poland, and Hungary had high hopes in East Germany for an end to 28 years of strict travel restrictions.“During a government press conference, an official spokesman’s hasty statement gave reporters and TV viewers the mistaken impression that East Germany would be allowing free travel between East and West Berlin,” the statement said, explaining the history behind the historic event.Within hours, a massive crowd gathered at the wall, far outnumbering the border crossing guards, it said.“Some time before midnight, the officer in charge of the Bornholmer Street checkpoint defied his superiors and gave the order to open the gate.“Word spread quickly, and over the next few days, 2 million jubilant Germans crossed the border, some singing, dancing, and toasting the start of a new era while others began physically dismantling the wall,” the search giant said.Erected on August 13, 1961, the barbed wire and concrete edifice had long divided East and West Berlin. By the same token, its demolition triggered a series of events that led to the reunion of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.The Ayodhya dispute verdict on Saturday was also largely welcomed by citizens with some quarters expressing reservations over certain sections of the judgment.Delivering a unanimous judgement on a case that has long polarised the country and frayed the secular tapestry of the Indian society, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the site was undisputed, and he is symbolically the owner of the land.Yet, it is also clear that the destruction in 1992 of the 16th century three-domed structure by Hindu kar sevaks, who want to build a Ram temple there, was a wrong that “must be remedied,” the ruling said.
Yet, it is also clear that the destruction of the 16th century three-domed structure by Hindu kar sevaks, who want to build a Ram temple there, was a wrong that “must be remedied,” the ruling said. The judgement said it is not concerned with faith and belief, and instead treated the case as a title dispute over land between three parties — the Sunni Muslim Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu group, and the symbolic Lord Rama designated as Ram Lalla Virajman.
The judgement running into 1,045 pages was widely welcomed by Hindu politicians and groups, while the Muslim leadership said they will accept the verdict, even though they described it as flawed. Still, they called for peace and calm, and leaders across the political spectrum noted that it was now time to move on. “Whether it is devotion to Ram or Rahim, now is time for everybody to strengthen devotion to India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.
Moment of fulfilment for me: Advani New Delhi: BJP veteran LK Advani, the most prominent political face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, on Saturday said the historic Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya issue has vindicated his stand and he feels deeply blessed over the verdict paving the way for construction of a magnificent Ram temple.Describing it as a moment of “fulfilment” for him, Advani, who celebrated his 92nd birthday on Friday, said “God Almighty” had given him an opportunity to make his own humble contribution to the mass movement and stressed that time has come to leave all contention and acrimony behind and embrace communal concord and peace.Terming the agitation for Ram temple the biggest since India’s freedom movement, he said it was aimed at the outcome which the verdict has made possible. “I stand vindicated, and feel deeply blessed, that the Supreme Court has given its unanimous verdict paving the way for the construction of a magnificent temple for Lord Ram at Ramjanmabhhomi in Ayodhya,” he said in a statement, while “wholeheartedly” welcoming the judgement.Stressing that Ram and Ramayana occupy an esteemed place in India’s cultural and civilisational heritage and Ram janmabhoomi (birthplace) holds a special and sacred place in the hearts of crores of countrymen, he said it is gratifying that their belief and sentiments have been respected.Underlining that the judgment is the culmination of a long and contentious process over the last many decades, Advani, who has been the BJP’s longest serving president, said, “Now that the prolonged Mandir-Masjid dispute in Ayodhya has come to an end, the time has come to leave all contention and acrimony behind and embrace communal concord and peace.”He appealed to all sections of India’s diverse society to work together to strengthen the country’s national unity and integrity.Advani also welcomed the apex court’s decision that five acres of land be given at a prominent place for building a mosque in Ayodhya.“I join all my countrymen in wholeheartedly welcoming the historic judgement delivered by the five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today in the Ayodhya matter,”Advani said.Struggling to find a space in the country’s politics dominated by secular parties, the BJP under L K Advani hitched its bandwagon to the temple cause in its Palampur resolution in 1989, giving a defining Hindutva edge to its politics which until then had lacked a popular cause celebre.The issue combined with its alliance with anti-Congress parties in 1989 won the BJP 85 seats in Lok Sabha elections against mere two in 1984.Advani launched his famous ‘Rath Yatra’ from Somnath temple in Gujarat, drawing people in their thousands as his chariot rolled through the country’s heartland rallying support for building Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Later, in an address to the nation, Modi said peace, unity and amity are essential for development of India and described November 9 as a day to forget any bitterness one may have. He said there is no place for fear, bitterness and negativity in new India. The dispute over the site of Babri Masjid, a three-domed mosque built by or at the behest of Mughal emperor Babur, dates back centuries with Hindus contending that the invading Muslim armies had razed an existing Ram temple to erect the mosque. However, it turned into a legal dispute in 1885 when a mahant went to court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the mosque. The plea was dismissed. In December 1949, unidentified miscreants spirited an idol of Lord Ram into the mosque. The structure was destroyed by a large mob of kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.
The demolition triggered nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots, more so in north India and Mumbai, which left many hundreds dead. Subsequently, Muslim extremists angered by the demolition and the riots, carried out a series of bombings in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, which left hundreds dead.
“The dispute is over immovable property. The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence,” the judgement said, delivered at the end of a marathon 40-day hearing– the second longest in the history of apex court.
“The fact that there lay a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and the underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”
“On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard” has continued unimpeded even before 1857 when the British annexed Oudh region. “The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession” of the mosque before 1857, it said. “The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed.”
The court also went on to say that the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied.
“Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law.”
To remedy that wrong, the court asked the Centre to allot a five-acre plot in a “prominent” location in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh for constructing a new mosque. The disputed 2.77-acre plot will for now remain with a Central government receiver, who will hand it over to a government-created trust that must be set up within three months. The trust will be tasked with the construction of the temple.
The verdict in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case was one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history. The apex court bench that also comprised Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla.
As security was tightened at communally sensitive places across the country, Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of ruling BJP party’s parent organisation RSS, said the verdict should not be seen as anybody’s victory or defeat. The building of a Ram temple is a long-held objective of the BJP.
There were no reports of violence or unrest from Ayodhya, where a massive police force was deployed, or any other part of the country.
The verdict was pronounced on 14 appeals filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and ‘Ram Lalla’.
The bench said the high court wrongly decided the title suit by resorting to partitioning of the disputed land in three parts.
“The disputed site was government land in the revenue records,” the court said.
As Justice Gogoi read out the operative part of the verdict for 45 minutes, people belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya sat glued before Television sets, while the tech-savvy youth kept a tab on their mobiles phones.
Relief appeared to be the overwhelming emotion in Ayodhya as its residents said the verdict has heralded a new dawn and brought closure to a lingering dispute.
“The judgement has ended the uncertainity on how the dispute would be settled,” said Anand Kumar, a resident. At some places, people chanted Jai Shri Ram and burst crackers.
C S Vaidyanathan, lawyer for deity ‘Ram Lalla’, said the verdict is very balanced and it is a victory of people.
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, one of the main litigants, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and said it has no plans to challenge it.
In his initial reaction soon after the judgement, Board’s counsel Zafaryab Jilani had said in Delhi, “The Ayodhya verdict has a lot of contradictions. We will seek a review as we are not satisfied with the verdict.”
Talking to PTI on phone later, Jilani, however, clarified he had reacted as secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and and not as the counsel for the Sunni Waqf Board.
The Nirmohi Akhara said it has no “regrets” regarding the verdict.
Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to all communities to accept the verdict and maintain peace and remain committed for ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh urged everyone to take the verdict with equanimity and magnanimity. The Congress said it respects the verdict and is in favour of construction of Ram temple.
Prominent Muslim leaders appealed for peace and harmony even as they expressed surprise.
“I was surprised to see the ruling and it’s beyond my understanding. I feel there were enough evidences in favour of the mosque but these were not taken into consideration,” Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, the current Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, said.
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