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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 12:03 GMT
Ayodhya court to quicken work
Hindu activists
Hindu activists are keen to build a temple at Ayodhya
An Indian court that must decide who owns the disputed holy site at Ayodhya has said it will speed up its work.

The Allahabad High Court has had eight years to resolve the dispute which has inflamed Hindu-Muslim relations.

But the court has said progress has been slow because of a shortage of judges.

Last week Indian security forces put on a huge display of strength at Ayodhya to prevent Hindu hardliners holding a ceremony at the site.

Extra staff

The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday pledged to hold hearings into the dispute on a daily basis.

It also said it would take on more staff to gather evidence.

Hindu hardliners say the land is theirs because it was the birth place of the Hindu god Lord Rama.

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

  • Muslims say it belongs to them since a mosque was built there by the Mughal Emperor Babar in the 16th century.

    In 1992 Hindu hardliners destroyed the mosque.

    More than 2,000 people died nationwide in the ensuing violence between Hindus and Muslims.

    Hindu activists have been claiming the right to build a temple to Lord Rama on the site.

    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.

    Ayodhya special report

    Ayodhya eyewitness

    Background issues

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    Should plans to build the Ayodhya temple be called off?



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    See also:

    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
    07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
    Country profile: India
    14 Mar 02 | South Asia
    Ayodhya Muslims live in dread
    15 Mar 02 | South Asia
    India's secularism under threat?
    28 Feb 02 | South Asia
    Vajpayee's Ayodhya dilemma
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