Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

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Rapid Action Force (RPF) personnel patrol on a street in Ayodhya on November 8, 2019, ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on the future of a disputed religious site. (AFP)
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Muslims participate in a special prayer asking to maintain peace and harmony across India ahead of the court verdict of disputed religious site of Ayodhya, in the campus of ancient holy shrine of Hazrat Saiyed Usman Shamme Burhani in Ahmedabad on November 8, 2019. (AFP)
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Rapid Action Force (RPF) and Uttar Pradesh Police personnel patrol a street in Ayodhya on November 06, 2019. (AFP)
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Activists belonging to 'People for Peace and Justice' stage a candle light vigil urging people belonging to all religious communities to maintain peace and harmony regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi case, in Bangalore on November 7, 2019. (AFP)
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Security personnel stand guard on a street in Ayodhya on November 07, 2019, as part of a security measure ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on disputed 16th-century Babri mosque. (AFP)
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Rapid Action Force (RPF) personnel stand guard near a security vehicle on a street in Ayodhya on November 8, 2019, ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on the future of a disputed religious site. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

  • India’s top court said late Friday it will deliver a verdict on Saturday morning on the decades-old spat over the future of a small piece of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims
  • In recent years, Ayodhya has become a rallying point for Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

NEW DELHI: Fearing unrest, Indian police have reportedly arrested more than 500 people ahead of a Supreme Court ruling due Saturday on a hotly disputed religious site in the holy city of Ayodhya.
India’s top court said late Friday it will deliver a verdict on Saturday morning on the decades-old spat over the future of a small piece of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims that in the past has sparked deadly religious riots.
Hindu hard-liners want a temple built on the site, currently barricaded off after a 16th-century mosque there was demolished during 1992 riots that left 2,000 people dead.
Hindus believe the mosque was built over the site of the birthplace of their god Ram.
Security was tightened across India in the run-up to the ruling, and Uttar Pradesh state police chief O.P. Singh told the Economic Times that more than 500 arrests had been made.
“The main message to the police force is to maintain peace at any cost,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Most of the suspects were taken into custody while a further 70 people were detained over social media posts, he said — warning that the Internet could be blocked locally if required.
Singh added that police had also identified more than 10,000 people he described as “anti-social.”
A police spokesman declined to comment to AFP.
In recent years, Ayodhya has become a rallying point for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Some senior BJP members are being tried separately over their role in the mosque’s 1992 destruction.
In 2010, a High Court divided the disputed land between Hindu and Muslim groups, but both parties appealed to the Supreme Court, which has since repeatedly put off a verdict.
Media reports say Modi has told ministers to refrain from making comments on the case that could fuel tensions.
For India’s minority Muslims, the dispute and a recent clampdown in Muslim-majority Kashmir have become symbols of the hostility that they say they face from the government.
Hindus make up about 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population, while there are about 200 million Muslims.


Bulgaria must not expel Uighurs: European rights court

Updated 23 min 21 sec ago

Bulgaria must not expel Uighurs: European rights court

  • The court was ruling in an application by five Muslims who fled China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) under accusations of ‘terrorism’ links
  • Bulgaria refused their asylum applications, saying they had failed to show they had to leave China because of ethnic or religious persecution

STRASBOURG, France: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) warned Bulgaria on Thursday that expelling asylum-seeking members of China’s Muslim Uighur community “would constitute a violation” of their rights.
Back in China, the Uighurs could be “at risk of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and death,” the court said in its ruling, telling Bulgaria “not to remove the applicants.”
Sending them back to China, or to another country without guarantees that their rights would be protected, would violate articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights — the right to life and the right not to be tortured.
The court was ruling in an application by five Muslims who fled China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) under accusations of “terrorism” links. They arrived in Turkey between 2013 and 2015, and made their way to Bulgaria in July 2017, albeit illegally.
Bulgaria refused their asylum applications, saying they had failed to show they had to leave China because of ethnic or religious persecution, or that they would face any if they returned.
They were also considered a security threat for allegedly having undergone training for the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement, listed as a “terrorist” group by the United Nations.
Bulgarian authorities were preparing to expel the five people when they appealed to the ECHR.
The court ruled in January 2018 that Bulgaria should not remove the applicants while the case was pending.
“The relevant information on the current situation in the XUAR showed that the Chinese authorities had proceeded with the detention of hundreds of thousands or even millions of Uighurs in ‘re-education camps’, where instances of ill-treatment, torture and death of the detainees had been reported,” the court said Thursday.
“That had been the case of many Uighurs who had returned to China after leaving the country or who had been forcibly repatriated,” it said.
Given the general situation and the applicants’ individual circumstances, “there were substantial grounds for believing that they would be at real risk of arbitrary detention and imprisonment, as well as ill-treatment and even death, if they were removed to their country of origin,” it added.
There were also no guarantees that, in sending them to a third country, Bulgaria would “properly examine whether they would in turn be sent from there to China without due consideration for the risk of ill?treatment and even death.”
Two of the five Uighurs have since left Bulgaria on their own accord, and the ruling does not apply to them.