India bars public gatherings in temple town Ayodhya as court verdict nears – World

India has banned public meetings in the city of Ayodhya when the Supreme Court began hearing final arguments on Monday to decide whether a Hindu temple should be built on the ruins of a mosque in a long-standing dispute.

The demolition of the 16th-century Babri mosque by Hindu mobs in 1992 led to one of the deadliest communal riots attacks in India, in which at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed throughout the country.

Hindu groups believe the site is Lord Ram's birthplace and have intensified calls for a temple to be built there under the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The government led by the Modi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 with the promise of building a temple on the site in the northern city and calls calling for it to accumulate under his government.

Authorities have imposed an emergency law in Ayodhya under which the public assembly of more than four people is prohibited, saying that "the hearings of the case are ongoing and a verdict is likely to be soon," said the government of the District in one order.

The ban will be in effect until December 10, the government said.

The dispute in Ayodhya is one of the most polarizing problems in a nation where Muslims represent 14 percent of the population of 1.3 billion.

Hindu and Muslim groups have failed to resolve the dispute through negotiations over the years, and a judicial decision in 2010 to divide the site of 2.77 acres (11,210 square meters) between a Muslim group and two Hindu groups opposed both sides.

The Supreme Court took control of the site and heard requests from both sides about what should be built there. The final hearings will end this week, with a probable verdict in the coming weeks.

In the New Delhi court, Rajeev Dhavan, a lawyer representing a Muslim group, said Hindu opposition groups had no evidence to claim ownership of the disputed land.



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