Peace plan for Ayodhya seeks balance

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The Independent Online
NEW DELHI (Reuter) - The Indian government has decided to buy the site of a Muslim mosque destroyed by militant Hindus and build a mosque and a Hindu temple there, an official spokesman said yesterday.

'The government will issue an ordinance this week to acquire the disputed land empowering itself to build a mosque and a temple,' the spokesman said. 'The government's aim is to ensure that the balance of both communities is maintained.'

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao.

The demolition of the mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya earlier this month triggered a wave of sectarian violence across India in which at least 1,200 people died.

The spokesman said the government had decided to refer to the Indian President the question of seeking the Supreme Court's opinion on whether there had been a Hindu temple on the site where the mosque stood.

The militant Hindus who tore down the mosque say the site was the birthplace of the Hindu warrior-god, Lord Rama; they want to build a temple there to replace the one they say was destroyed by India's 16th century Moghul conquerers.