India's Supreme Court has awarded a bitterly contested religious site in the north of the country to Hindus, dealing a defeat to Muslims who also claim the land that has ignited some of India's bloodiest riots since independence from British colonial rule.
The ruling on November 9 in the dispute between Hindu and Muslim groups clears the way for the construction of a Hindu temple on the site in the northern town of Ayodhya near the city of Faizabad.
The proposed construction of the Hindu temple has long been supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The judgment has been criticized as unfair by a lawyer for the Muslim group involved in the case.
But the Muslim organization that lost the case said it accepts the verdict and has called for peace between India's majority Hindus and Muslims, who constitute 14 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people.
A Hindu mob destroyed the 16th-century Babri Mosque on the site in 1992, triggering riots across the country in which about 2,000 people were killed -- most of them Muslims.
Court battles over the ownership of the site followed the destruction of the Babri Mosque.