LUCKNOW, India – Under tight security, an Indian court received an archaeological report Friday aiming to resolve a fight over a religious site claimed by Hindus and Muslims that has dragged on for decades.
The documents from a 4½-month government-sponsored dig at the demolished Babri Mosque (search) — destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992 — were expected to be released by judges on Monday, High Court official Narendra Prasad told The Associated Press.
Archaeologists had searched the site at Ayodhya (search) in search of remnants of an ancient temple that modern-day Hindu nationalists claim once stood there.
The trial over whether Hindus or Muslims own the site started more than half a century ago and moves at a snail's pace, with months passing between hearings. The dispute has become a key and volatile issue for the future of troubled relations between India's majority Hindus and minority Muslims.
Court employees said copies of the report were delivered under tight security and were being kept under guard.
Hindu groups say a temple to their supreme god, Rama, at the site was destroyed 450 years ago by a Muslim Mogul emperor, Babar, who built the Babri Mosque. They have installed an idol there and demand that the government give them the land to build a temple on ground that they believe is Rama's birthplace.
Ayodhya, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, is one of Hinduism's seven sacred cities.
Muslim groups say there is no proof the site was Rama's birthplace, and have insisted the land be returned to them so they can build a new mosque.
The excavation started March 12 on the orders of a special court. The Archaeological Survey of India (search), a government agency, unearthed some 1,360 artifacts, including bangles, earthen stoves, pieces of bone and parts of pillars and figurines, a member of the excavation team said, speaking on condition of anonymity.