Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

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Rapid Action Force (RPF) personnel patrol on a street in Ayodhya on November 8, 2019, ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on the future of a disputed religious site. (AFP)
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Muslims participate in a special prayer asking to maintain peace and harmony across India ahead of the court verdict of disputed religious site of Ayodhya, in the campus of ancient holy shrine of Hazrat Saiyed Usman Shamme Burhani in Ahmedabad on November 8, 2019. (AFP)
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Rapid Action Force (RPF) and Uttar Pradesh Police personnel patrol a street in Ayodhya on November 06, 2019. (AFP)
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Activists belonging to 'People for Peace and Justice' stage a candle light vigil urging people belonging to all religious communities to maintain peace and harmony regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi case, in Bangalore on November 7, 2019. (AFP)
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Security personnel stand guard on a street in Ayodhya on November 07, 2019, as part of a security measure ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on disputed 16th-century Babri mosque. (AFP)
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Rapid Action Force (RPF) personnel stand guard near a security vehicle on a street in Ayodhya on November 8, 2019, ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on the future of a disputed religious site. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

  • India’s top court said late Friday it will deliver a verdict on Saturday morning on the decades-old spat over the future of a small piece of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims
  • In recent years, Ayodhya has become a rallying point for Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

NEW DELHI: Fearing unrest, Indian police have reportedly arrested more than 500 people ahead of a Supreme Court ruling due Saturday on a hotly disputed religious site in the holy city of Ayodhya.
India’s top court said late Friday it will deliver a verdict on Saturday morning on the decades-old spat over the future of a small piece of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims that in the past has sparked deadly religious riots.
Hindu hard-liners want a temple built on the site, currently barricaded off after a 16th-century mosque there was demolished during 1992 riots that left 2,000 people dead.
Hindus believe the mosque was built over the site of the birthplace of their god Ram.
Security was tightened across India in the run-up to the ruling, and Uttar Pradesh state police chief O.P. Singh told the Economic Times that more than 500 arrests had been made.
“The main message to the police force is to maintain peace at any cost,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Most of the suspects were taken into custody while a further 70 people were detained over social media posts, he said — warning that the Internet could be blocked locally if required.
Singh added that police had also identified more than 10,000 people he described as “anti-social.”
A police spokesman declined to comment to AFP.
In recent years, Ayodhya has become a rallying point for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Some senior BJP members are being tried separately over their role in the mosque’s 1992 destruction.
In 2010, a High Court divided the disputed land between Hindu and Muslim groups, but both parties appealed to the Supreme Court, which has since repeatedly put off a verdict.
Media reports say Modi has told ministers to refrain from making comments on the case that could fuel tensions.
For India’s minority Muslims, the dispute and a recent clampdown in Muslim-majority Kashmir have become symbols of the hostility that they say they face from the government.
Hindus make up about 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population, while there are about 200 million Muslims.


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.