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Advani, Joshi and 30 other acquitted

  • Judge says they tried to stop demolition

K.R.Murthy

The demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 was not planned and there was no conspiracy behind it, a special CBI court in Lucknow ruled in a landmark verdict on Wednesday acquitting Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and 29 others of conspiracy charges.  

“The accused tried to stop the demolition,” said special CBI judge S.K. Yadav. The Hindu activists who demolished the 16th-century building were described by the judge as ‘anti-social elements.’ When the historic verdict was read, Advani, 92, Joshi, 87 and Uma Bharti, 61, were not present in the court.

Rath Yatra preceded demolition

Advani led a Rath Yatra as part of Ram Janmabhoomi Abhiyan (campaign). Former UP chief minister, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar and Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Ritambara were some of the 32 accused who are alive. The Moghul-era mosque was demolished some 28 years ago when the VHP-BJP-RSS combine led the movement in north India. The Rath Yatra was stopped and Advani and others were arrested in Bihar when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the chief minister. V.P. Singh was the prime minister at that time.  351 prosecution witnesses, many of them journalists, were examined during the trial.

At the time of demolition, P.V. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister. He was blamed for allowing the disputed masjid to be demolished by looking the other way. He cooperated with Liberhan Commission that was set up to probe into the act of demolition. He published a book, Ayodhya, defending his role in the trying times. Two cases were filed against the demolishers in 1992 which number had gone up to 49.  An FIR had named Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and others in the case for promoting religious unrest and provoking rioting. The CBI had filed a consolidated chargesheet against 48 people in 1993. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was also included among the accused.

The Supreme Court had in 2017 ordered that the criminal conspiracy cases should be restored against them. Advani and others also face charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, promoting enmity between different groups. The top court had ordered day-to-day hearing on 19 April 2017. Thousands of kar sevaks gathered at the mosque and razed it to the ground on the argument that it was built by Moghuls on the ruins of ancient Ram temple. The demolition was followed by riots in many places in which more than 3,000 people died. The Hindu vote had consolidated behind the BJP helmed by Adavani and enabled Vajpayee to come to power. Narendra Modi who heads the second NDA government has been consolidating this vote bank. The Supreme Court had  ruled in November 2019 in favour of Hindu protagonists. The Supreme Court had described what happened at the Babri mosque on the fateful day as “an egregious violation of the rule of law.” It ordered the Union government and UP government to allot 5 acres of land to Sunni Central Waqf Board as a compensation.

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