Bangalore, India (RNS/ENInews) Churches in India have joined other
faiths and political leaders in calling for calm after a court ruled
that a religious site violently disputed by Hindus and Muslims should be
split between the two groups.
The high court of northern Uttar
Pradesh state issued its ruling Thursday (Sept. 30) in the protracted
case, which concerns ownership of the site of the former Babri mosque at
Ayodhya, about 420 miles southeast of New Delhi. The case has been
pending for more than half a century.
Two of the three judges
declared that Hindus have the right of ownership to the main disputed
area. The court granted Muslims and a Hindu group control of other parts
of the site.
Hindus consider the location the birthplace of the god Ram, and placed a Ram idol inside the mosque in 1949.
1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the mosque, built by the Mughal Empire
ruler Babar in 1528. In the violence that followed, more than 2,000
Some legal experts say the court decision is a
victory for Hindu groups; the National Council of Churches in India,
which includes Orthodox and Protestant churches, called for calm.
Rajkumar, executive secretary of the NCCI's justice and peace
commission, told ENInews: "We do not want to go into the merits of the
judgment at this moment. We have to study it carefully. We want peace
and harmony in the country."
Archbishop Albert D'Souza of Agra,
secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, echoed
these sentiments and appealed for peace.
In addition, Hindu
groups and leaders of various political parties have appealed for "peace
and calm," against a background of general concern.
has been averted," noted D'Souza, referring to the three-way split of
the 2.6 acre disputed land that the court ordered. The site is currently under the control of the federal government.
D'Souza said that he would have been happier if those who pulled down
the Babri mosque in 1992 had been punished, or at least reprimanded,
when the court gave its verdict.
Some Hindu groups that see the
verdict as a victory for themselves have urged Muslims to accept the
verdict and allow the building of a Ram temple on the disputed site, "in
the national interest."
The Muslim litigants have said they will appeal the verdict in the federal Supreme Court.
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