NEW DELHI May 9 India's Supreme Court on Monday
suspended a High Court ruling over the partition of a disputed
site that has been a flashpoint for Hindu-Muslim clashes,
throwing one of the country's most religiously-divisive legal
battles into uncertainty.
A two-justice bench questioned the reasoning behind a ruling
passed last year that divided the site of the former Babri
Masjid mosque destroyed by Hindu rioters in 1992 into three
separate plots for Hindus, Muslims, and a local Hindu trust.
The demolition of the 16th century mosque in the northern
town of Ayodhya triggered some of India's worst riots that
killed about 2,000 people. Over 200,000 police were deployed for
the September ruling to guard against communal violence.
"This (ruling) is very strange and surprising. Nobody has
prayed for partition of the area. The Allahabad High Court has
given a new relief which was not sought by anybody," said Aftab
Alam, the presiding judge.
The two judges ordered that the "status quo" should be
maintained at the site, banning either of the groups from
beginning construction activities.
The order comes on the first day of a Supreme Court hearing
of petitions from people challenging the partition.
The peaceful response to the ruling last year was a relief
for the ruling Congress party, a left-of-centre group with
secular roots. The opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata
Party has campaigned for a temple to be built on the site.
Hindus say that the demolished mosque was built by a Mughal
Emperor on the ruins of a razed temple that marked the
birthplace of Ram, the popular Hindu warrior God.
Hindus make up around 80 percent of India's 1.2 billion
population. Muslims account for 13 percent.
(Reporting by Venkat Raman; Writing by Henry Foy; Editing by