India's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered an end to hearings in a long-running dispute between Hindus and Muslims over a place of worship, laying the ground for a verdict that could lead to further divisions, Presstv Reported.
Hindus believe that the site in the northern town of Ayodhya is the birthplace of god-king Lord Ram and want a temple built on the ruins of a mosque that was torn down by zealots in 1992, triggering riots across the country.
Muslims want the 16th century mosque be rebuilt and leaders from the two sides have been arguing over the matter for decades.
"Enough is enough," Supreme Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said in a packed courtroom in New Delhi, sitting alongside four other judges. "Hearing in this matter is going to be completed today," he said.
The judges started day-to-day proceedings in August after mediation proceedings failed to find a compromise between the two communities.
They also heard 14 petitions challenging a 2010 lower court ruling that 1.12 hectares (2.77 acres) of disputed land be partitioned among Hindus and Muslims.
Hindu groups tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party have been agitating for a temple at the site, saying a temple existed there before invaders destroyed it and built the mosque.
Premier Modi had promised to build the temple in 2014 elections that brought him to power. But he later decided to wait for the court verdict despite pressure from millions of Hindu hard-liners who asked his government to bring legislation to build the temple.
Lawyers, journalists and a couple of saffron-robed Hindu monks jostled for space in the courtroom as both sides made their case over who the land should be given to, quoting historical information.
Sharad Sharma, spokesman of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist organization was confident of a verdict in favor of the Hindus.
Gogoi is expected to announce a verdict next month. Ahead of the court decision, local authorities banned gatherings of more than four people across Ayodhya town to prevent a trouble between majority Hindus and Muslims who make up 12 percent of the population.
Thousands of people have died in riots that have erupted over Ayodhya over the years.
"We have made our submissions, now whatever happens is in the hands of the almighty," Zafaryb Jilani, a lawyer representing the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said.