BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Indian judges tour Ayodhya
A statue built by Hindu activists for the planned temple in Ayodhya
The High Court has started daily hearings of the case
Three high court judges have made their first inspection of the disputed religious site in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya as hearings are stepped up to decide who owns the land.

Police in Ayodhya
Authorities fear further eruptions of religious violence
The judges from the Allahabad High Court were accompanied by senior officials and archaeologists.

The visit follows a decision this week to start daily hearings to speed up the long-running case.

The delegation inspected the controversial makeshift temple built on the ruins of the 16th Century Babri Mosque torn down by Hindu zealots in 1992.

The court is hearing the claims of Hindu hardliners, who say the land marks the birthplace of the god-king Lord Rama, and Muslims, who say it belongs to them since a mosque was built there by the Mughal Emperor Babar.

Historical tensions

Tensions have escalated around the site since February, when a Muslim mob attacked a train returning from Ayodhya to Gujarat, killing almost 60 Hindu activists.

Graphic showing Ayodhya site
  • 1. Proposed Ram temple
  • 2. Site where VHP placed symbolic pillar
  • 3. Site of demolished mosque

      Click here to read more about the disputed site

  • At least 900 Muslims died in the orgy of violence that erupted in apparent retaliation for the incident.

    Hardline Hindus held a ceremony at the disputed site in March, but a massive security operation largely forestalled a feared outbreak of religious violence.

    The Allahabad High Court has to decide whether Lord Rama was born on the site and whether a temple existed there before the mosque was built in the 16th Century.

    Muslims have said they will give up their claim to the site if an independent agency proves that the mosque was built on the ruins of a temple.


    The current legal case dates back to 1950, three years after India's independence and the creation of a separate country for Muslims in Pakistan.

    Hindu holy man in Ayodhya
    Hindus say Ayodhya is one of their holiest sites

    The central government acquired the entire 67-acre land - comprising the disputed structure and the area adjacent to it - in 1993.

    It also requested India's Supreme Court to give a ruling on who had rights of ownership.

    However, after 21 months of deliberations, the Supreme Court in 1994 handed responsibility for the decision to the Allahabad High Court.

    The court has only heard from about 25 out of 240 witnesses since 1994.

    Some of the witnesses will be asked what evidence there is that Lord Rama was born on the spot some 5,000 years ago.

    Even with extra staff, few expect the Allahabad court to produce its verdict for more than a year.

    See also:

    20 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Ayodhya court to quicken work
    15 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Hindu anger at Ayodhya
    07 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Thousands homeless in Gujarat
    06 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Traumatised victims wait for help
    14 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Ayodhya Muslims live in dread
    15 Mar 02 | South Asia
    India's secularism under threat?
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more South Asia stories