The Supreme Court's decision to give the 2.77 acres land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust on Saturday was covered extensively by the global media. US newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and CNN, stuck to ground reports. Media in Pakistan, however, took note of the verdict and several newspapers, like Dawn and Geo News commented on the verdict and said that the ruling on "Babri mosque" will "embolden the foot soldiers of Hindutva".
The coverage of the Ayodhya verdict was quite vast in the foreign media. While Pakistani media gave its share of coverage to the judgment, US media, especially The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The New York Times was critical of how a "Hindu majority" party has driven a "communal agenda" after its re-election.
Pakistan media's coverage
In an editorial titled, Babri mosque verdict will embolden the foot soldiers of Hindutva and send a message to minorities, Dawn noted that the ruling of the Supreme Court has "indirectly supported the vandalism by the mobs."
"Perhaps it would have been better had the court given the site to neither side, considering the sensitivity of the matter and its impact on communal relations in India. Moreover, on matters of faith and devotion, it is best if state institutions maintain a non-sectarian outlook to ensure justice for all citizens."
In another report, headlined "India's SC says temple to be built on disputed Ayodhya site, alternative land to be provided for mosque", Dawn said that the "unanimous decision" is likely to have a "significant impact on fraught relations between India’s Hindus and Muslims..."
Other publications, like the Geo News, The Express Tribue and The Nation, gave normal coverage to the issue. Headlines ranged from: "Indian Supreme Court gives Babri Mosque land to Hindus, allots alternate land to Muslims" (Geo News) to "India's SC says temple to be built on disputed Ayodhya site, alternative land to be provided for mosque".
US media's coverage
The New York Times
In a piece headlined, "Court Backs Hindus on Ayodhya, Handing Modi Victory in His Bid to Remake India", the newspaper, which has been a vocal critic of the "Hindu majoritarian politics" of the Bharatiya Janata Party, noted, "India’s Supreme Court on Saturday ruled in favor of Hindus over a piece of land Muslims also claim, greenlighting the construction of a temple on the site where a mosque stood before it was demolished by a frenzied mob three decades ago, an event that has set the tone for the country’s sectarian tensions since. In the lead up to the decision, right-wing Hindus said the ruling would cement their status as leaders of India after centuries of rule by first the Muslim Moghul Empire and then British colonialists. But Muslims fear that the decision will relegate them to second class citizens and could potentially empower Hindu extremists."
The ground report on BBC noted that despite warnings by authorities, " not to celebrate the verdict, BBC correspondents in court say they heard chants of "Jai Shree Ram" (Hail Lord Ram) outside as the judgement was pronounced."
In an editorial, the BBC noted that "arguably one of the world's most contentious property dispute"..."over the plot has polarised, frustrated and exhausted India." The analysis quoted lawyer Sanjay Hegde who said that the verdict showed "judicial craftsmanship and statesmanship where the letter of the law was adhered to, but the relief was moulded, taking into account the ground realities."
The editorial, however, also said, "Will the verdict lead to a closure of past animosities and help close India's deepening religious fissures? Only time will tell."
The Washington Post
In an article titled "India’s Supreme Court clears way for a Hindu temple at country’s most disputed religious site", The Washington Post noted that the verdict "awarded" the land at the heart of the clash to "a Hindu litigant over Muslim objections", and added that "the building of a temple to the Hindu god Ram in the town of Ayodhya is a long-cherished goal of Hindu nationalists and a key objective of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party."
The piece further noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "moved swiftly to implement his agenda" after his re-election in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"To Modi and his party, India is fundamentally a Hindu nation, not the secular republic promoted by the country’s founders." The article in Washington Post quoted several authors and Muslim leaders who said that the verdict "puts the government in the driver's seat" when it comes to building a temple. Author of a book on the Ayodhya dispute, Dhirendra Jha, is quoted as saying, "I don’t think it will take much time. The government, the ruling party and their parent organisation are all on the same page."
The Guardian reported that "The Indian supreme court has ruled that India’s most hotly contested piece of religious land rightfully belongs to Hindus, and has granted permission for a temple to be built on the site in Ayodhya."
In an article titled, 'Ayodhya: India's top court gives Hindus site claimed by Muslims', The Guardian said that the ruling is "another huge victory" for Modi. "The ruling, just six months after his landslide election win, is another huge victory for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government, which have made the restoration of the Ram temple at Ayodhya a focal point of their Hindu nationalist agenda."
Detailing the history of the Ayodhya case, the article further said that the rebuilding of a Ram temple at Ayodhya "has been at the forefront of their Hindutva agenda" since Modi and the BJP took power in 2014.
'Hindus allowed to build on disputed holy site, India's Supreme Court rules', read the headline on CNN. In a detailed piece on the Ayodhya case and its history, the article said, "Less than three acres of disputed land at a holy site in India will be handed over to a Hindu group for construction, India's Supreme Court unanimously ruled Saturday. The 2.77 acres, previously claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, was the site of a 16th-century mosque demolished by right-wing mobs in 1992 in Ayodhya, a town in the state of Uttar Pradesh. But India's top court ruled Saturday that a Hindu temple to the god Ram could be constructed at the site, while giving Muslim representatives a separate 5 acres of land in the town."
The Wall Street Journal
The WSJ, in an article titled, 'India's Top Court Rules in Favor of Hindus in a Long Feud With Muslims Over Religious Site', said, "India’s Supreme Court, ruling on one of the country’s most divisive cases, paved the way for Hindu groups to build a temple on a religious site contested by Muslim groups seeking to rebuild a mosque that once stood in the same location."
Giving an account from the Supreme Court after the verdict was announced, the piece said, "Amid nationally televised coverage of the ruling, Hindu lawyers left the court building shouting, “Hail Lord Ram!” Hindu religious devotees gathered at the court blew conch-shell horns, a Hindu ritual to mark auspicious occasions."
Critiquing the communal nature of the case and how it affected India and its populace, the article added, "For decades, various political parties have tried to use the emotions surrounding the case for political advantage, none more effectively than the BJP. Since winning a landslide victory in national elections in May, Modi’s government has stripped autonomy from India’s only Muslim-majority state and pushed to deny citizenship to some Muslim immigrants who have long resided in India."
Updated Date: Nov 10, 2019 16:38:06 IST