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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 14:41 GMT
Hindu hardliners 'will abide by court'
Leaders involved in Ayodhya talks
Senior Hindus have been mediating in the dispute
The hardline Hindu organisation the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has offered a compromise in its long- running demand to build a temple on a disputed holy site in the Indian town of Ayodhya.

The VHP says it will now accept the verdict of a court trying to resolve the dispute.

The move has been given a cautious welcome by a group representing Muslim organisations opposed to the temple construction.

The Indian Government is looking for a way out of the issue in the wake of last week's communal violence in Gujarat which killed more than 650 people.

Contentious issue

This is the first time the VHP has said it would accept the court's ruling, having previously insisted the issue was a matter of religious conscience.

However, the VHP is also insisting that the government gives it land next to the disputed site by 2 June.

A Muslim man cries during a peace meeting in Ahmedabad
Most of those killed in the recent riots were Muslims

1n 1992, supporters of the VHP and other hard-line Hindu organisations tore down the Babri mosque at the site.

That triggered off nationwide communal riots in which more than 2,000 people died.

Since then the Ayodhya site has been one of India's most contentious political issues.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has welcomed the VHP move.

But its convenor, Qasim Rasool Illyas warned, in comments to the BBC, that the VHP had a "flip-flop" attitude on the issue.

VHP pressure

A leading Hindu religious leader, Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, has been mediating between the two sides in recent days.

The VHP, which has close ties to India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party, has been under pressure to stand down from their campaign following the Gujarat riots.

Parliament uproar

Earlier on Thursday, angry opposition MPs forced the adjournment of the lower house of India's parliament over the Gujarat violence.

Amid heated scenes, they demanded the resignation of Home Minister LK Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

"In Gujarat what is happening is no short of state-sponsored genocide of minorities," Nilotpal Basu, a Communist Party MP, said.

Gujarat officials said on Thursday that the death toll in rioting in recent days had reached 607.

Efforts are now on to help provide relief to tens of thousands of people who are estimated to be living in temporary shelters, often without adequate supplies or medical aid.

Hardliners named

Local VHP leaders are alleged to have led some of the attacks which targeted the Muslim minority.

Preliminary police reports into two attacks say local VHP leaders led mobs which set houses in the Muslim-dominated areas ablaze.

The violence broke out last Wednesday when some 60 people, mainly Hindu activists, were killed in an attack on a train in Gujarat.

A cycle of retaliatory bloodshed followed soon after.

Ayodhya special report

Ayodhya eyewitness

Background issues

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Should plans to build the Ayodhya temple be called off?



19422 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Hindu hardliners 'agree compromise'
14 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Why is Gujarat so violent?
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