Ayodhya Verdict: Indian Holy Site 'To Be Divided'

A court in India has said that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims, but both sides plan to appeal. In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus. Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect.The destruction of the mosque by Hindu extremists led to widespread rioting in which some 2,000 people died. It was some of the worst religious violence since the partition of India in 1947. Officials urged both sides to remain calm and respect the Allahabad Hindus claim the site of the Babri Masjid is the birthplace of their deity, Ram, and want to build a temple there. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed for calm. In a statement, he said: "My appeal to all sections of the people is to maintain peace and tranquility and to show respect for all religions and religious beliefs in the highest traditions of Indian culture." The court ruled that the site should be split, with the Muslim community getting control of a third, Hindus another third and the remainder going to a minority Hindu sect, Nirmohi Akhara, which was one of the early litigants in the case. It said that the current status of the site should continue for the next three months to allow the land to be peacefully measured and divided. The Hindus will keep the area where a small tent-shrine to Ram has been erected, lawyers said. "The majority ruled that the location of the makeshift temple is the birthplace of Ram, and this spot cannot be shifted," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, a lawyer for one of the parties to the suit.