South Asia

India Ayodhya mosque ruling on Thursday

Indian security personnel patrol a street in Ayodhya
Image caption Security is tight in Ayodhya ahead of the ruling

An Indian court is to rule on the long-running Ayodhya religious dispute on Thursday, after the Supreme Court cleared the way for a judgement.

The High Court in Allahabad was to have ruled last week but India's top court deferred judgement.

The high court will decide who owns land where a 16th Century mosque was destroyed by Hindu mobs in 1992.

Hindus claim the site is the birthplace of their god, Lord Ram, and want to build a temple there.

The destruction of the Babri Masjid led to widespread rioting between Hindus and Muslims and some 2,000 people died.

It was some of the worst Hindu-Muslim violence since the partition of India in 1947.

"The final ruling in the Ayodhya case will be made on 30 September at 3:30 pm [1000 GMT]," a high court official told reporters in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

The high court was to have ruled last Friday but the Supreme Court deferred the decision, saying it wanted to give Hindus and Muslims more time to resolve the dispute amicably.

The move adds to the worries of the government, which already has its hands full dealing with security preparations for the Delhi Commonwealth Games which begin on Sunday.

India's home ministry has already warned that the legal decision is likely to evoke sharp reactions and communal passions.

The Uttar Pradesh state government has deployed thousands of extra security forces to deal with any law and order problems.

At stake is whether the disputed site in Ayodhya should be given to the Hindu community to build a temple or returned to the Muslim community to rebuild the Babri Mosque.

Correspondents say Thursday's ruling is unlikely to be final and expect any judgement to be appealed.

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