Deal in sight on Ayodhya dispute, says Advani

Agence France Presse

Ayodhya, April 6:

India’s Deputy Prime Minister said today agreement was in sight on resolving one of India’s most violent religious disputes over construction of a Hindu temple on the ruins of a razed mosque. Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, on a cross-country campaign trek for general elections to be held this month, said in the northern Hindu temple town of Ayodha where the destroyed 16th-century mosque is located that "some quiet progress" had already been made in settling the row.

He said he was confident agreement could be reached soon between Hindu and Muslim leaders to resolve the future of the site where Hindu zealots destroyed in late 1992 the Babri mosque, triggering nationwide riots in which some 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, died. The destruction of the mosque has become a major tension flashpoint between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. "I believe a negotiated settlement will be the most desirable to resolve the Ayodhya issue," said Advani, who was present on the day of the mosque’s demolition and was only recently cleared of conspiracy charges. "We’ve already made some quiet progress and we will be able to reach an agreement involving Hindu and Muslim representatives shortly after a new government is in place," he told reporters. Advani made the statement on the 24th anniversary of the founding of the BJP’s which is expected to return to power.