New Delhi: Gauging the mood and maturity of citizens after one of the most important judgments in independent India on the emotive Ayodhya dispute, the country's media has given its verdict: People have moved on, now leaders must.
'A new, resurgent India has emerged from the debris of the violent 1990s,' said an editorial in The Times of India a day after the court verdict, referring to the aftermath of the demolition of Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992.
'A new generation has come of age since then and it doesn't want to be tied down by ancient hatreds. Simply put, a mandir is what is believed by some Hindus to be Ram's birthplace is not an existential issue for this country, especially its youth,' it said.
Most papers also said people at large were fed up of politicians and religious leaders pitting Ram against Rahim, while appealing to community elders to ensure that the matter is put to rest at the earliest, and not simmer.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court's Lucknow bench had on Thursday ruled by majority that the place where the Babri mosque in Ayodhya stood, before it was razed by Hindu mobs in 1992, was indeed the birthplace of Ram.
It also ruled that the entire disputed land in Ayodhya, a riverside town in Uttar Pradesh, should be divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, Hindus and the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu sect that were among those who fought the court battle.
The Indian Express said the people of the country were asking the judicial institutions to address a matter that had become the most divisive political issue of independent India and had hoped for an outcome that will be peaceful and forward-looking.
'In this verdict, and in what appears for now to be a measured response to it, we see that hope in action,' said the paper, adding the cases against those involved in demolishing the Babri Masjid also needed to be pursued visibly and energetically.'
The Hindustan Times said: 'There are no losers in the Ayodhya ruling. It is a milestone confirmation of our secular fabric.' The fact that the unhappy litigants have decided to move the apex court, it added, suggests the matter has been contained within the frames of law.
'In the end, what is of prime importance and deserving both relief and applause is that the verdict, in no mean way, has been a touchstone moment for Indian secularism and a definitive step away from the pit of religious fundamentalism.'
In its editorial, The Hindu said if the overall reaction of the people and from all sections of the political spectrum has been subdued, much of it has to do with the fact that the issue does not find much traction any more, unlike the 1990s.
'The majority verdict of the Allahabad High Court on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is a compromise, calculated to hold the religious peace, rather than exercise of profound legal reflection,' the paper, nevertheless, said.
'For too long has the Ayodhya dispute remained an obsession with large sections of the people. It is to be hoped that after this major, even if not final, step in judicial process, it will cease to occupy the political stage,' it added.