When will the Ayodhya temple be built

The Supreme Court in India awards the sacred ground in Ayodhya to the Hindus

The case - it is about the construction of a Hindu temple on Muslim soil - was considered a test of how independent the judiciary in Narendra Modi's India still is.

The Supreme Court in India has issued an explosive verdict in a trial that has been watched with suspense. The five judges ruled on Saturday that a Hindu temple may be built on the site of a mosque in northern India that had been destroyed by Hindu nationalists. The court thus gave the right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi a victory. Critics spoke of a questionable verdict that the independence of the court must be called into question.

The Islamic sanctuary from the 16th century was torn down in 1992 by supporters of the current ruling party BJP because the Babri Mosque was supposedly built over the birthplace of the mythical Hindu god-king Ram. The destruction of the mosque led to the worst religious rioting in India since independence in 1947. More than 2000 people were killed. The controversial property has since been cordoned off and closely guarded. The judges now determined that an association should be founded to promote the construction of the temple.

The judges justified their decision by stating that archaeological investigations had shown that a Hindu shrine had already stood in the city before the mosque was built, meaning that the claims of the Hindus went further back. The court emphasized that the destruction of the mosque by a Hindu mob was illegal, but did not order any further processing of the events. It awarded the Muslim side land the size of around two and a half football fields as compensation for the deprivation of the property. Nevertheless, representatives of the Muslim community were disappointed. "We are not satisfied with the verdict and it does not meet our expectations," said Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer who represents the Muslim community. "These five acres mean nothing to us." Jilani indicated that he will file a petition with the Supreme Court to review the verdict. At the same time he appealed to the members of all religious communities to keep the peace.

Additional security guards across India

Given the explosiveness of the ruling, the government has mobilized thousands of additional security forces across the country to prevent religious violence. Politicians also urged the population to remain calm. Some explicitly urged Hindus not to publicly enjoy their victory. "May there be peace and harmony!" Tweeted Modi. Vishnu Shankar Jain, a Hindu attorney, said a giant battle was fought and won in court. "It is a historic moment for Hindus," he said.

The verdict is a triumph for Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP, who started with an election promise to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. In liberal circles, however, the judgment was received with skepticism. Activists complained that no move was being made to punish those guilty of the 1992 riot. Others questioned the independence of the archaeological investigations on site. The court bowed to pressure from the majority and did not protectively face a minority, said journalist Valay Singh, who is also the author of a book on Ayodhya. The Supreme Court is no longer as independent as it should be. In fact, even before the decision, BJP leaders had boasted that the Supreme Court was theirs. Around 80 percent of the approximately 1.3 billion Indians are Hindus, and around 200 million profess Islam.