The disputed 2.77 acre land in Ayodhya will be given to a government-run trust for the building a temple and Muslims will be given a five-acre "suitable" plot in the town, the Supreme Court has announced in a landmark verdict in the decades-old land dispute case.
A five-judge constitution bench delivered a unanimous verdict on Saturday. There have been appeals for peace and heightened security across the country, according to NDTV.
The judgment comes almost a decade after the Allahabad High Court had partitioned the disputed site in the ratio of 2:1 between Hindu and Muslim litigants. Both sides had then moved the top court against the judgment.
"Everyone should respect the verdict and maintain peace and harmony," said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari shortly after the verdict.
Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, the spiritual head of Ajmer dargah, also welcomed the decision and appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony. "We respect and accept the verdict. The judiciary is supreme and everyone should respect the decision. It is the time to present a united face before the world because entire world is looking at India today," Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, the spiritual head of Ajmer dargah, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
The country has been put on high alert to ensure that no violence breaks out following the verdict. At least 12,000 security personnel have been posted in Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is situated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a series of tweets, said that the "Ayodhya verdict will not be anybody's victory or loss", adding that it was the priority of the country's citizens to maintain harmony.
The security cover of the five judges has also been increased ahead of the Ayodhya verdict. Two helicopters have been kept on standby in Lucknow and Ayodhya to tackle any possible emergency. Security arrangements in Delhi have also been tightened.
The dispute has dominated political discourse since the 1980s. In 1992, rightwing activists tore down the 16th century Babri mosque which they believed was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked the birthplace of the Lord Ram. More than 2,000 people were killed in the riots that followed post the incident.
The disputed land -- spanning an area of over 2.77 acres -- in Ayodhya has been claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. While Hindu activists want to build a temple on the site, Muslim groups claim there is no proof that a temple existed there.
The Allahabad High Court in 2010 had prescribed a three-way division of the disputed land but the verdict failed to satisfy the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla, the parties involved in the dispute. All three moved the Supreme Court.
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