The Supreme Court of India is due to announce its official verdict on a disputed piece of religious land today at 10:30 a.m (IST) – billions are watching, many people tensed as they remember the tensions that had gripped the nation in December, 1992.
What is the dispute?
The Ramayana, a Hindu scripture maintains the birthplace of Hindu king-god Rama to be Ayodhya. In the 16th century, Babur, India’s first Mughal emperor commissioned a mosque in Ayodhya. Hindus believe that the spot where the mosque was built is the exact birthplace of Lord Rama, a claim which was backed by the Archaelogical Survey of India, though thorough excavations are yet to be done. The area has been under dispute since. Tensions escalated in 1992 when on the 6th of December, Hindu activists demolished the mosque with axes and hammers – the entire structure was razed within a matter of a few hours.
The demolition triggered a national crisis – some 2,000 lives (mainly Muslims) were lost in Hindu-Muslim clashes across the nation, chiefly in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Since then, the government acquired the disputed land and the surrounding areas. A trial has been ongoing at the Supreme Court of India to determine which religion has the right over the land – today its decision to be made.
Security in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and in and around the Supreme Court have been tightened – the fear of protests is rife. Many are fearing a similar situation as of 1992. In states as far as Karnataka, sale of liquor has been banned and schools closed. Security officials are assuring citizens of the measures placed, and many political leaders are urging citizens to practice restraint no matter what the verdict is.
In Nepalgunj, Nepal-India border has been sealed since Saturday morning. Movement of pedestrians and vehicles (except for emergency vehicles) has been completely halted due to fear of unrest.