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“We have deployed around 200,000 security personnel at sensitive places to prevent any violence post the Ayodhya verdict,” top state official Shashank Shekhar Singh said.

The Babri Mosque, built in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, was razed by Hindu hard-liners in 1992, setting off nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people.

Hindus want to build an enormous temple to Rama there, while Muslims want to rebuild the mosque. The ruling Thursday would almost certainly force both groups to scale down those plans.

Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which was implicated in the destruction of the mosque, said the ruling should clear the way for the construction of the Rama temple.

“I will appeal to Muslims to forget the past. We have got an opportunity to act together,” he said.

The verdict in the explosive case came as thousands of foreign athletes poured into New Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games, which start Sunday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm as the government extended its ban on bulk texting to stop people from sending mass cell phone messages that could incite violence.

The High Court in the state of Uttar Pradesh was locked down ahead of the verdict and only those directly involved in the case were allowed inside.

More than 40,000 police fanned out across the city of Mumbai, which had erupted in anti-Muslim riots and retaliatory bombings after the Babri Mosque demolition, but played host to scattered peace marches in recent days. Still, many schools were closed Thursday and many businesses planned to close early.

In Hyderabad, capital of the southern Andhra Pradesh state, authorities deployed more than 20,000 additional police. Some 460 arrests to stop possible violence were made, said police chief Abdul K. Khan.

Orders were posted banning the gathering of more than five people in the city, and liquor shops were closed and religious processions and meetings barred, Khan said.

Associated Press writers Erika Kinetz in Mumbai and Nirmala George and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.