Indian Muslim organisations have expressed disappointment at the decision of the Supreme Court to hand over the site of Babri Masjid to Hindus for the construction of a temple, but they said they would respect it.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) – a body of top Islamic clerics – said the judgement has not served justice.
In a statement, the board expressed surprise that the court accepted all the evidence put forth by Muslims but still handed over the land of Babri Mosque to Hindus. It described the attitude of the court as “painful.”
“Neither equity nor justice has been served,” said senior lawyer Zafaryab Jilani, who represented the Muslim body in the court.
Built in 1528 under the rule of Mughal Emperor Babur, Babri Masjid in India’s northern province of Uttar Pradesh was demolished by a mob of radical Hindus in 1992. Hindus claimed one of their gods, Lord Ram, was born at the site of the mosque.
On Saturday, the court also directed the government to allot a “suitable plot” of land measuring five acres to Muslims to construct a mosque at some other place in the city of Ayodhya.
“As per the Sharia law, we cannot give away a mosque. However, we will abide by the court’s verdict. The Hindus claim that the temple was present since the Vikramaditya era, but there is no evidence of that,” said Jilani.
Prominent Indian Muslim leader Asaduddin Owaisi also expressed dissatisfaction with the court verdict. He said the court was “indeed supreme but not infallible.”
“I am not satisfied with the verdict… We were fighting for our legal rights. We do not need five-acre land as a donation. In my opinion, we should reject this land offer. Do not patronise us,” Owaisi told a news conference.
The spokesman of Babri Mosque Action Committee, Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, said the Muslim community cannot welcome the judgement.
Ilyas told news website rediff.com: “If you dig any old structure you will surely find some ancient relic under that structure. So, this is not proof of a mandir [temple] under the Babri Masjid. And let me make it clear, the Supreme Court did not say the Babri Masjid was built by destroying a Ram mandir.”
Jama’at-e-Islami Hind (India) also expressed dissatisfaction with the judgement, however, it also appealed to people of the country to “honour the judgment, respect the law, and maintain communal harmony.”
“There should not be any polarisation on communal lines due to the verdict. This judgment is neither a victory nor defeat of any party,” said Syed Sadatullah Hussaini, president of Jama’at-e-Islami Hind.
Meanwhile, reactions among the Muslim community in Ayodhya were mixed.
Some welcomed the decision, others rejected it, and there was a feeling of resignation – that Muslims had no choice but to accept the court’s decision.
There was also a sense of relief, that the outcome ends a dispute that had become the biggest fault line between the two communities in India.
“We want closure and the Supreme Court has shown us the way. We have no issues if it [the temple] is built there but we would have been happier if the court had specified the place where the mosque would be built,” said Babu Bhai, a member of the Babri Mosque Citizen Resolution Committee.
Akram Khan, a resident, welcomed the decision: “Senior members of our community, who were also part of the negotiations, have already said that they respect and welcome the court judgement, so there is no reason why we should differ.
“Our five generations have witnessed so much hostility because of this dispute and if this is how the court feels it should be addressed, we welcome it.”