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Babri Masjid demolition 26th anniversary: All about the Ayodhya temple dispute

Never ending dispute
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Never ending dispute

The demolition of centuries-old Babri Masjid by a Hindu mob in Ayodhya in late 1992 sparked deadly religious riots around the country, killing about 2,000 people.

The minority Muslim community in the town feels under siege once again, with some saying tensions are running at their highest levels since the riots, as Hindu groups intensify demands for the construction of a Hindu temple on the same site.

Here are key facts about the disputed site, sourced from court and government documents.

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Court orders
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Court orders

In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the main site where the mosque once stood should be split into three parts, one for Muslims and two for Hindus.

In its order, the court laid out the difficulty in making a decision on such a sensitive topic.

"Here is a small piece of land where angels fear to tread. It is full of innumerable landmines. We are required to clear it," the three-judge bench wrote.

"Some very sane elements advised us not to attempt that. We do not propose to rush in like fools lest we are blown. However we have to take risk. It is said that the greatest risk in life is not daring to take risk when occasion for the same arises."

In late 2010, both Muslim and Hindu groups challenged the division of the site in the Supreme Court, where it remains unresolved. In October, the top court again delayed a hearing on the matter until at least January, enraging Hindu groups.

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Key characters now
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Key characters now

Modi's BJP said in its 2014 general election manifesto that it would "explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution" to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site.

As Hindu hardline groups intensify the pressure on the government, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest and BJP leader, has promised a "grand" statue of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. He has also changed the name of the district where Ayodhya town is located from Faizabad, which has Muslim origins, to Ayodhya.

Modi, who has adopted "development for all" as his driving philosophy, has not commented on the temple issue since coming to power.

Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, has also stayed away from the controversy, but his party colleagues have said any law allowing the construction of the temple would be unconstitutional because the matter is before the Supreme Court.

Muslim leader Haji Mahboob Ahmad, who lives in Ayodhya and is a petitioner in the court case, says tensions are running high in the town but that he would continue to demand the reconstruction of a mosque on the disputed site.

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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service