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INDIAN PREMIER WANTS SINGLE COURT TO RULE ON AYODHYA TEMPLE

Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao proposed yesterday that a single judicial authority should rule on a religious dispute which has claimed more than 2,000 lives and helped bring down two national governments.

He told Parliament that several sets of legal proceedings over a holy site in the town of Ayodhya should be brought together and handled by one authority.

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The long-simmering dispute exploded into prominence again on July 10 when hard-line Hindus began building a temple on the site of a 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya, ignoring court orders to stop. They called off the work on Sunday after Mr. Rao held talks with Hindu leaders.

The temple row has led to widespread Hindu-Muslim riots in the past three years. Many Hindus say the mosque was built in 1528 on the birthplace of the warrior-king Lord Rama, one of their most popular gods. They say a temple should be built on the spot; Muslims say there is no proof of the claim.