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Ayodhya, mezza agli indù e mezza ai musulmani? Il verdetto sulla Gerusalemme indiana

Dal New York Times dell’1.10.2010 su Ayodya, teatro una ventina di anni fa, di feroci scontri tra gli hindù e i nusulmani. Ora una corte di tre giudici indiani ha deciso. Salomonicamente.

Indian Court Divides Disputed Ayodhya Holy Site

Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times
Hindu holy men awaiting a ruling Thursday on a site claimed by Hindus and by Muslims. More Photos »

NEW DELHI — In a case that spanned centuries of religious history and languished in the legal system for six decades, an Indian court issued a historic ruling Thursday on the ownership of the country’s most disputed religious site by effectively handing down a split decision: granting part of the land to Hindus and another part to Muslims.
Rajanish Kakade/Associated Press
Indian soldiers in front of a mosque in Mumbai on Thursday after a court ruled that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya that has set off bloody communal riots across the country in the past should be divided between the Hindu and Muslim communities. More Photos »
Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press
An Indian Muslim walked past security personnel in Ayodhya, India, on Thursday More Photos »
The unorthodox decision by a three-judge panel in the state of Uttar Pradesh provided a Solomonic resolution — if one likely to be appealed to India’s Supreme Court — to a case the authorities had feared might unleash religious violence across India.
Nearly 200,000 state and federal officers were deployed across Uttar Pradesh as a precaution, as almost every major political figure in the nation, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, appealed for calm and harmony.
The case was considered especially combustible because the contested site, in the city of Ayodhya, was the scene of a searing act of religious violence in 1992 when Hindu extremists tore down an ancient mosque known as the Babri Masjid on the property. The destruction sparked riots that spilled into the following year and have been blamed for about 2,000 deaths.
Yet that violence did not repeat itself on Thursday evening, as the Indian public absorbed the ruling with a calm that leaders framed as evidence of the nation’s maturation and commitment to religious tolerance.
“I have full faith in the people of India,” Mr. Singh said in a statement issued after the decision, even as he cautioned against “mischief makers.” “I also have full confidence in the traditions of secularism, brotherhood and tolerance of our great country.”
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., which rose to national prominence in the 1990s partly because of its advocacy of rebuilding a Hindu temple on the contested site, issued a statement Thursday praising the public’s controlled response as “a new chapter for national integration and a new era for intercommunity relations.”
“The B.J.P. is gratified that the nation has received the verdict with maturity,” the statement added.
The unexpected decision to divide the property initially suggested a political solution as much as a legal one. But Harish Salve, a former solicitor general of India, said the court had apparently based its decision on historical accounts suggesting that for centuries Hindus and Muslims had worshiped together at the site before they were segregated during British rule in the 1850s.
With this legacy, the court concluded that the entire property should be considered jointly held by Muslims and Hindus and distributed under relevant Indian property statutes, Mr. Salve said, which divide contested properties on the principle of fairness.
“It looks pretty good,” Mr. Salve said, rating the decision as “9 points out of 10.”
Under the court’s ruling, two-thirds of the land will go to Hindu groups while the remaining third will be awarded to Muslims. Lawyers for Hindus and for Muslims expressed dissatisfaction and promised to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
“There is no reason of any loss of hope,” said Zafaryab Jilana, a lawyer representing one of the Muslim parties to the case, speaking on national television. “We do not agree with the formula of giving one-third of the land to Muslims.”
The case required the judicial panel to wade deeply into India’s contested religious history. Lawyers for Hindu groups had argued that the Ayodhya site was the birthplace of one of Hinduism’s most revered deities, Ram. They contended that a temple to Ram had existed on the site until it was demolished to make way for the Babri Masjid, constructed in the 16th century by India’s first Mughal ruler.
Soon after the judges read the decision in a closed hearing, lawy
ers rushed to hundreds of reporters waiting outside the courthouse in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. “The judgment is in favor of Hindus,” said H. S. Jain, a lawyer for one of the Hindu groups in the case. “The belief of Hindus that this is the birthplace of Ram is upheld.”
But each of the three judges issued a separate opinion, diverging in interpretation of certain facts, including over whether Ram was born precisely on the contested site. Yet the court did hand a significant victory to Hindus, who had argued that Ram was born beneath the central dome of the destroyed structure. That portion of the contested property was granted to Hindus as part of their two-thirds share, presumably to erect a new temple to Ram.
The original case was filed in 1950 and then expanded over the years as more parties claimed title to the property. The Indian government now controls the property, and the court ordered that the status quo remain intact for the next three months. Assuming both sides follow through with filing appeals to the Supreme Court, the case could continue indefinitely.
The initial quiet public response was a relief to Indian officials. Earlier, Palaniappan Chidambaram, the home minister, had predicted that the public would respect the court’s finding.
“I think India has moved on, young people have moved on,” he told the Indian news media.
The oldest plaintiff, Hashim Ansari, 90, a Muslim tailor who had prayed at the Babri Masjid as a boy, said he would not take part in any appeal. He joined the case in 1961 and had looked forward to a ruling as a matter of closure. He called Thursday’s decision a good judgment and hoped that efforts could soon begin to rebuild a mosque on the land granted to Muslims.
Of course, he added, the timing will depend on appeals.
“It took 60 years to get this decision,” he said by telephone. “I do not know how many years the Supreme Court will take. At least I could hear this judgment on my own. Will I hear the Supreme Court judgment in my grave?”

Hari Kumar contributed reporting.


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