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India court rules to hand historic Babri Mosque site to Hindus

Security personnel stand guard on a street in Ayodhya on Nov. 07, 2019, as part of a security measure ahead of a Supreme Court verdict (AFP Photo)

The historical site of early 16th century Babri Mosque be handed over to Hindus for construction of Ram temple, ruled India's top court on Saturday in a historic judgement.

The Indian Supreme Court also ruled that a "suitable plot" of land measuring 5 acres would be allotted to Sunni Waqf Board either by the central government or provincial government to construct a mosque.

The Muslim side, represented by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), expressed dissatisfaction over the judgement signed by five judges of the apex court.

"We respect the [Supreme Court's] order but we are not satisfied with the verdict. We will decide further course of action," Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer for the board, told a news conference in the capital New Delhi.

"The executive committee of the AIMPLB, after discussions with senior lawyer Rajiv Dhawan, will decide on whether to go for review," he said.

Built in 1528 under the rule of first Mughal emperor Babur, the grand mosque along with a land of 2.77 acres in India's central province of Uttar Pradesh was demolished by a group of radical Hindus in 1992. Hindus claimed one of their gods, Lord Ram, was born at the site of the mosque.

The state government in northern Uttar Pradesh made elaborate security arrangements to meet any law and order situation in the wake of the judgment.

Ahead of the verdict, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for calm and said the verdict is neither victory nor loss for either party.

In the judgement, India's Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the government to formulate a scheme envisaging setting up of Trust within 3 months to build the temple.

"Possession of inner and outer courtyards [of Babri Mosque] be handed over to the Trust," Gogoi said.

India's right-wing Hindu organization the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, welcomed the court decision.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma said: "Truth has won in this case. We are happy with the decision."

"Most of the arguments of Hindus were accepted by the Supreme Court. We will now make [construct] a temple at the site," Sharma added.

The historic Indian court judgement coincided with the opening of Kartarpur corridor by Pakistan to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion.

Reacting to the Babri Mosque verdict, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi dubbed the timing of the verdict "surprising".

Following the court's decision, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to appreciate the court and hail the decision.

"This verdict shouldn't be seen as a win or loss for anybody," he said in a series of tweets.

"The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people's faith in judicial processes," Modi added.

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