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India: Modi calls for unity after landmark religious site verdict

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for unity on Saturday (November 9) after the Supreme Court awarded a bitterly contested religious site to Hindus, dealing a defeat to Muslims who also claim the land that has sparked some of the country’s bloodiest riots since independence.

“There should not be any place for fear, bitterness, and negativity in New India,” Modi said during a televised address.

The ruling in the dispute between Hindu and Muslim groups paves the way for the construction of a Hindu temple on the site in the northern town of Ayodhya, a proposal long supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party.

Saturday’s judgement, which is likely to be viewed as a win for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its backers, was criticized as unfair by a lawyer for the Muslim group involved in the case.

However, the group’s leader said ultimately it would accept the verdict and called for peace between India’s majority Hindus and Muslims, who constitute 14% of its 1.3 billion people.

(Production: Chiara Rodriquez)

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