Ayodhya Verdict

The dust, it seems, has settled over Ayodhya. The Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has worked in positive and effective ways to end the decades long stand-off between two prominent communities – Hindus and Muslims – over a place of worship on which both sides made ownership claims. As per the apex court order on Saturday, the ownership of the mosque will now vest with the central government. The government must form a trust to build a temple over the 2.77 acre space, while Muslims will be compensated with a five-acre plot in Ayodhya to build a mosque. Notably, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) which was in the forefront of the Ram Temple movement and had demolished the 16th Century Babri Masjid in 1992, got nothing. It was kept out of the picture. The court took serious exception to the demolition of the mosque and termed it a violation of law. It would now be the job of the Centre to build a temple. For the record, the court noted that as per archaeological department documents, the Babri Masjid was built over a space where a Hindu structure stood.
The scent of consensus behind the SC decision – which was unanimously backed by the five-judge constitution bench – and disposal of the 14 appeals against a 2010 Allahabad high court order which favoured a division of the plot among three claimants – is energizing in a positive manner. It must be admitted that the Modi government too worked in ways as to settle the matter once and for all. The court acted at the right time and in a laudable manner. Some Muslim organisations say they were disappointed over the verdict as they lost the ownership of a land they held sacred. Their pain is palpable. But, what they can feel happy about is that the claims of others too were rejected, and the land was ordered to be given into the hands of the central government. Muslims were willing for a compromise with their Hindu brethren, but for the fear that conceding any ground in Ayodhya will encourage entities like the VHP and RSS to raise fresh demands to corner the minorities. The five-acre land ordered to be given to Muslims should also be seen as part compensation for the demolition of a structure they held sacred. A few Muslim organisations might file a review petition, and they have the freedom to do so. Good thing is, India has peacefully passed a critical stage in a spirit of amity and brotherhood.

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