18 Sep 2010

India appeals for calm ahead of Ayodhya ruling

9:12 am on 18 September 2010

The Indian government has taken the unusual step of appealing for calm a week before a very sensitive legal decision on a religious site in the northern city of Ayodhya.

A court is to rule who owns land in the northern town of Ayodhya, where the 16th century Babri Mosque was destroyed by Hindu mobs in 1992.

Hindus claim the site is the birthplace of their god, Lord Ram.

The destruction of the mosque triggered widespread communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, in which some 2,000 people died.

It was some of the worst such violence since the partition of India in 1947.

The cabinet appeal carries the name and photograph of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and it takes up half a page in major newspapers, the BBC reports.

It calls on all sections of society to maintain peace and order after the delivery of the judgement.

Officials say the appeal will also be carried in various languages on Indian radio over the coming days.