x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Indian Muslims challenge Ayodhya holy site ruling

Muslims file petition challenging ruling that divided the bitterly contested Ayodhya religious site between Hindus and Muslims.

NEW DELHI // A Muslim group in India on Tuesday filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging a ruling that divided a bitterly contested religious site between Hindus and Muslims.

A lower court in September ordered that the site in the northern pilgrimage town of Ayodhya--which has been a flashpoint for deadly inter-religion violence--would be split, with one-third going to Muslims and the rest to Hindus.

"We feel the ruling was based on a number of incorrect assumptions and the board considers it the right and obligation of Indian Muslims to challenge the judgment," said Zafaryab Jeelani, a lawyer for the Sunni Wakf Board.

The petition said the Muslims wouldn't surrender their claim over the whole site in Ayodhya, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

In 1992, a 16th-century mosque on the site was razed by Hindu zealots, sparking riots that killed more than 2,000 people--mostly Muslims--in some of the worst sectarian violence since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

Under the September ruling, Hindus would control the spot where they believe their god Ram was born and where the central dome of the razed mosque stood until 1992.

Hindu groups have also appealed to the Supreme Court to claim the entire site.

The area has been guarded by troops since the destruction of the mosque 18 years ago, cordoned off with barbed wire and steel fencing.