India Awaits Verdict on Ayodhya Site, Leaving Hindus and Muslims on Edge

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“Now the issue should be solved forever and everyone should live in peace,” he said.

Ahead of Saturday’s verdict, schools were shut and 4,000 security officers were deployed to the area. Rallies have been banned, shops barred from selling kerosene and people prevented from collecting bricks or stones. Social media was alight with anticipation and citizens and community leaders appealing for calm.

Mr. Modi, on Twitter, appealed for calm in the wake of the verdict.

Whatever verdict is delivered by the Supreme Court will not be anyone’s victory or loss,” he wrote. “I appeal to my countrymen that everyone’s priority should be that the verdict strengthens the great tradition of peace, unity and good will of India.”

If the Supreme Court rules in the Hindus favor on Ayodhya, it will hand Mr. Modi a major victory just six months after his party swept elections and he was granted a second term as prime minister. The ruling comes just three months after Mr. Modi’s government achieved another key B.J.P. goal, when his government stripped the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir of its autonomy in August, increasing central government control over the territory, which Pakistan also claims.

Many in the B.J.P. feel like Muslims and other minorities in India, including Christians, have been given a special status in India that has set them apart from their Hindu peers, creating a nation that has a tiered structure they would like to flatten. Hindu temples, for example, are controlled by the government, while Christians and Muslims control their own churches and mosques and can partly be governed by their own religious laws.

“If the Supreme Court hands them a victory, all stars will have aligned in the B.J.P.’s favor,” said Milan Vaishnav, the director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s South Asia program.

“There is short term fear about communal tensions,” he said. “The soil is pretty fertile for conflict.”

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