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India's top court clears way for verdict on holy site

By the CNN Wire Staff
Indian schoolchildren rally on Monday over the long-awaited Ayodhya ruling in the Allahabad high court.
Indian schoolchildren rally on Monday over the long-awaited Ayodhya ruling in the Allahabad high court.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Both Hindus and Muslims claim rights to land in Ayodhya
  • The ancient town has been a religious flashpoint for 400 years
  • Hindu mobs razed a 16th-century mosque that once stood there
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(CNN) -- India's Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a verdict on a holy site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims -- and one is expected within 48 hours.

The verdict by the Allahbad High Court was initially expected last Friday, but the Supreme Court temporarily stayed it.

The judgment will decide ownership of long-disputed land in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya.

The town has been a religious flashpoint for more than 400 years. Hindus believe that Lord Rama, one of the religion's most revered deities, was born there.

In 1859, British colonial administrators annexed the site because of growing religious disputes and created separate Muslim and Hindu places of worship there.

Two years after independence, in 1949, the gates were locked after Muslims claimed Hindus had placed deities of Rama in their area.

Hindu groups have pushed to build a temple in Ayodhya, to replace a Muslim mosque razed by Hindu extremists in 1992. The destruction of the 16th-century Babri mosque sparked widespread riots in which more than 2,000 people died nationwide.

A court battle over who has rights to build on the site has dragged on for years.

CNN's Roya Shadravan contributed to this report.