Indian Supreme Court ruling clears way for determination of Babri mosque site dispute

The Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, in India's Uttar Pradesh state. (AP file photo)
Updated 27 September 2018

Indian Supreme Court ruling clears way for determination of Babri mosque site dispute

  • Court decision clears the way for determination of title suit on the disputed Babri mosque site
  • Ayodhya’s majority Hindu community have said that their supreme deity was born at the site of the mosque

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India upheld a 25-year-old observation of the court declaring prayer in mosques not integral to Islam. In a majority verdict of 2-1, the three court judges rejected a plea to refer the matter to a larger bench.

After the verdict a political commentator remarked it was unfortunate that the judges had been split over the issue, noting that: “Two judges who are Hindu said that mosques are not central to practicing Islam, one judge who has a reservation, is a Muslim.”
 
The court decision clears the way for it to determine the title suit of the disputed Babri mosque site in Ayodhya, a town in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Ayodhya’s majority Hindu community have said that their supreme deity Ram, was born at the site of the Babri mosque. They want to build a huge temple there but the Muslim community has opposed the move. 
 
In late 1980s and early 1990s the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led a political movement. In 1992 tensions came to a head with the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 by Hindu fanatics.

In 1994 in a case related to the question of acquisition of religious place by the State, the court said that every immovable property could be acquired. It observed that if prayer and worship can be done at any location that meant place of worship was not integral to prayer. Therefore, offering the ritual five-times-a-day namaz prayers at a mosque was not integral to Islam, unless the mosque had particular significance in Islam.
 
In 2010 the Allahabad High Court ordered the disputed site at Ayodhya to be divided into three parts — one for the Hindu deity Ram, another for Nirmohi Akhara — a Hindu sect — and the third for Muslims.
 
The Muslim community challenged the verdict, asking the Supreme Court to hear the case with a larger bench of seven judges, as the case relates to a land belonging to a mosque and has implications for the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion.
 
On Thursday, the Supreme court rejected setting up a larger bench, and decided not to adjust the 1994 court ruling.
 
“All religions, all mosques, temples and churches are equal. We have already noticed all religious places are liable to be acquired as per the 1994 verdict,” said Justice Ashok Bhushan. 

While accepting that the 1994 verdict that a mosque was not necessary for prayer was “questionable,” he added that this “fact does not apply to the title dispute” in the Babri mosque case.
 
Justice S. Abdul Nazeer disagreed with the two judges and said “whether mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering belief of religion and it requires detailed consideration.”
 
Advocate Hejaz Maqbool, representing some of the Muslim bodies in the Ayodhya dispute, told Arab News: “Today’s verdict is not a setback and the court said that whatever has been observed in the 1994 judgment will not be an issue in deciding the title suit of the Ayodhya dispute.”
 
But Aatekha Khan, a Delhi-based academician, said she was “disappointed” at the “double standard practiced by the Supreme Court on the crucial issue that affects Muslims emotionally.”
 
“Vested interests were trying to get the verdict delayed by raising one issue or the other, but the apex court has cleared the way for the final verdict of the Ayodhya dispute,” said Sudesh Verma, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson.
 
He told Arab News: “We are confident that justice will be done now after the issue of whether offering prayer in a mosque is an integral part of Islam or not has been settled.”
 
So far there has been no official reaction from the opposition Congress party. However, a senior Congress party leader, on the condition of anonymity, told Arab News: “The BJP, which was on a back foot on the issue of corruption in the defense deal, has got an issue to polarize the coming election.”
 
Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay observed: “It is very unfortunate that we have a split verdict in the Supreme Court. Two judges who are Hindu said that mosques are not central to practicing Islam, one judge who has a reservation, is a Muslim. It is not very healthy sign for the republic. It is a sad commentary on the state we have come to.”
 
“Temple is a live issue. It has come back to the national focus and it serves the political objective of the BJP,” added Mukhopadhyay.


France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

Updated 23 October 2020

France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

  • Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib

PARIS: The investigation into the murder in France of a teacher for showing caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in class turned to Syria on Thursday, where the killer had a militant contact, a source close to the case said.
Seven people have been charged with being complicit in a “terrorist murder” after 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov killed Samuel Paty on Friday, including two teenagers who helped him identify the teacher.
France paid homage to Paty on Wednesday, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that the history and geography teacher had been slain by “cowards” for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
In their search for accomplices, anti-terror investigators have now established that Anzorov had contact with a Russian-speaking militant in Syria whose identity is not yet known, the source told AFP.
Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.
In an audio message in Russian immediately after the killing, translated by AFP, Anzorov said that he had “avenged the Prophet” whom the teacher had shown “in an insulting way.”
The message was published on social media in a video, accompanied by two tweets, one showing the victim’s severed head and another in which Anzorov confessed to the murder.
Moments later he was shot dead by police. Anzorov decapitated Paty with a long knife.
Many of Paty’s students saw the images online before they could be taken down.
The teenagers who pointed out Paty to his killer in return for money were late Wednesday charged over the killing.

HIGHLIGHT

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.

The parent of one of Paty’s pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged.
Also charged was a known extremist radical who helped the father stir up outrage against Paty.
The other three facing prosecution are friends of Anzorov, one of whom allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.
Two of them also face c harges of being complicit in terrorist murder while the third was charged with a lesser offense, the anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said.
Paty, 47, became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material — the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.
The French government has earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organizations it accuses of having links with extremists.
Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial of alleged accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack started last month.
The killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defense of free speech and the right to mock religion.
“We will not give up cartoons,” Macron vowed at a ceremony Wednesday in Paty’s honor at the Sorbonne university in Paris.