SC Suggests Time Limit To Conclude Babri Masjid Demolition Cases

“In the cases like this, we have to exercise our inherent power and do justice. It is a question of evasion of law against evasion of justice,” the court said.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court which seems to be determined to dispose of the cases related to disputed Ramajanma Bhumi & Babri Masjid , on Thursday reserved its order on a plea that sought restoration of conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders.  While L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi agreed to face conspiracy charges, the apex court reserved its verdict.

The Bench also felt that in the interest of justice, it would like to order a time bound trial on day to day basis. As two and half decades have passed away without any progress, the court wanted the case to be wrapped up in two years.

“In the cases like this, we have to exercise our inherent power and do justice. It is a question of evasion of law against evasion of justice,” the court said.

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Advani, Joshi, Uma Told To Attend Lucknow Court On May 30

Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati were asked to attend a trial court in Lucknow on May 30 when charges of conspiracy will be framed against them.

Lucknow: The BJP veterans have suffered a major setback when Lucknow Court ordered them to be present in the trial court on May 30. Advani, Uma Bharathi, Murali Manohar Josh have to appear in court in a case related to Babri demolition in December, 1992.

When the special CBI judge here took up Babri demolition case, only the Shiv Sena lawmaker Satish Pradhan was present. The BJP leaders were asked to attend the court next week when charges will be framed against them.

On the given date they should appear in court and no exemption for anyone will be granted, the trial court said.

Special CBI court dropped conspiracy case against Advani and others in 2001 which decision was upheld by Allahabad High Court in 2010.

But Supreme Court said in the last month that the leaders will have to face trial on the conspiracy charges. These leaders are already facing a trial for the provocative speeches they allegedly made near Babri before Mosque was pulled down by Kar Sevaks.
One month time was given to frame fresh charges for CBI Special Court and two years to deliver its verdict for this case which is pending for 25 years. The judge made it clear that there would no exemptions.

The apex court has restored the conspiracy charge against 89-year old Advani and others. They are being tried separately on the charge of inciting the karsevaks through their inflammatory speeches from a platform near the masjid on 6 December 1992.

The demolition took place as a result of the movement of Ramjanmabhoomi led by Advani as it is the belief of the Hindu community that a Ram temple was existing there in place of Mosque. Babar got the temple demolished to build mosque there, they believe. The razing of the mosque resulted in communal riots all over the country and about 2000 people were killed in the mayhem.

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Former Lawmaker Claims He Instigated Mobs To Pull Down Babri Masjid

The former BJP lawmaker from Pratapgarh in UP said that he along with Ashok Singhal and Mahant Avaidyanth encouraged VHP activists to see that the structure is demolished.

Lucknow: As the Supreme Court revived the criminal charges against senior leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi, in the 25-year-old Babri Masjid demolition case, former BJP lawmaker Ram Vilas Vedanti remarked, out of the blue, that Advani had no role in the incident.

“I brought it down and saw that it went down,” He spoke to the media on Friday.

He claimed that he was the one who provoked thousands of volunteers who gathered near the masjid on December 6, 1992.

“It was neither Advani nor other senior BJP leaders,” he added.

The former BJP lawmaker from Pratapgarh in UP said that he along with Ashok Singhal and Mahant Avaidyanth encouraged VHP activists to see that the structure is demolished.  His name was amongst the 13 people accused by CBI in the conspiracy to commit the crime.

The senior leaders Advani, MM Joshi and others would face trial at Lucknow special court.

He claimed that it was he who gave the slogan ‘Ek dhakka aur do.. Babri Masjid tod do,‘ while Advani and Vijayaraje Scindia were trying to calm the Kar Sevaks.

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Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid Dispute: Timeline

The disputed site of Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid still continues to be a sentimental issue as it is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.

New Delhi: As the Supreme Court decided to revive the criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in the case relating to the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992, the issue which has been dormant all these days came to light once again.

The disputed site of Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid still continues to be a sentimental issue as it is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.  It is believed that a mosque was constructed during Mughal Emperor Babar’s rule. It  was razed by Kar Sevaks and a makeshift temple was built in its place.

The case was pending for six years as the court froze the verdict by Allahabad Court, which stated that Lord Ram was born under the dome of the mosque and Hindus have a right to worship there.

In this context, a bird’s eye view of the uneasy history of the holy site would help understand the issue in proper perspective. Here it is:

1528: Babri Masjid was built in Ayodhya on a site which many Hindus consider as the place of birth of Lord Rama.

1853: The first ever recorded violent clashes broke out at the religious site

1859: British rulers create fences to separate worship place at the same site. Muslims were allowed to use the inner court while the Hindus used the outer court.

1949: As the idols of Lord Ram appeared inside the Mosque, the government announced the site as disputed and locked the gates. Both Muslims and Hindus accusing each other filed suits.

1984: To liberate the birth place of Lord Rama and build a temple Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) formed a committee. The movement was led by the BJP leader L K Advani.

1986: As the district judges ordered to open the gates of the masjid and allowed Hindus worship there, Muslims too formed Babri Mosque Action Committee.

1989: Adjacent to the disputed Masjid site, VHP laid the foundation stone to construct a Ram Mandir.

1990: The Masjid was partially demolished by members of VHP. The then PM Chandra Shekhar failed to resolve the issue through consultations.

1992: Communal violence erupted after the mosque was demolished by VHP supporters, the Shiv Sena and the BJP.  Over two thousand people died in riots.

2001: Tensions rose as VHP vowed to erect a structure for Lord Rama at the site on the demolition anniversary of the mosque.

Jan 2002: To hold consultations with Hindu and Muslim leaders, the then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee created Ayodhya Cell at PMO and appointed Shatrughan Sinha as a senior official.

Feb 2002: A deadline was set by VHP to begin the construction of Ram Mandir. The BJP decided not to include the issue in the manifesto for UP Assembly elections. Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya in a train were attacked in Godhra and over 58 people were killed.

Mar 2002: In the riots followed by the Godhra incident in Gujarat, nearly thousand to fifteen hundred people were reportedly killed.

Apr 2002: The three-judge  Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High court begun hearings of the case.

Jan 2003: Archaeologists begin a court-ordered survey to find out if a Ram Temple existed on the site.

Aug 2003: The survey finds evidence of temple beneath the masjid, but, Muslim group disputed the findings.

Sept 2003:  A court ruling charged seven Hindu leaders and said they should stand trial in demolition case. However, no charges were brought against Advani who was present at the site during the incident.

Nov 2004: As senior leader L K Advani announced in October 2004 that his party was committed to building the Ram Mandir, a Uttar Pradesh court ruled that exoneration of LK Advani by a previous ruling should be reviewed.

July 2005: Security forces killed five suspected militants as they attacked the disputed site with an explosive-laden jeep.

July 2007: The Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the case

July 2009: Seventeen years after it began an enquiry, the Liberhan Commission filed its report on demolition.

Nov 2009: The content of the commission reports was made public and an uproar in the Parliament ensued as the report indicted many leading BJP politicians.

Sept 2010: Allahabad High court ruled giving possession of one-third area each to Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akharas. As it also gave the disputed area, a lawyer belonging to Muslim community decided to appeal.

May 2011: As both Hindu and Muslim groups appealed against the High Court ruling, the apex court suspended it.

March 2017: The Supreme Court which said that the charges against BJP leader L K Advani and others cannot be dropped in demolition and felt that the case may be revived.

The Supreme Court on March 21 said that the matter is sensitive and should be settled out of the court. It asked both the parties to hold talks and find an amicable solution.

April18, 2017: The Supreme Court says Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and others should face the trial at Lucknow court. The apex court transfers Advani’s case from Rae Bareilly court to Lucknow court.

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Advani, Joshi, Uma To Face Babri Case Trial

Babri Masjid demolition case has not been resolved for decades. The Supreme Court allows the appeal by CBI and direct Lucknow court to conduct trial against senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti among others have to face trial at Lucknow court on charges of criminal conspiracy in the case of the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992.

The apex court has allowed the revival of CBI case. The CBI earlier filed a petition challenging the withdrawal of criminal conspiracy charges against Advani and others. Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh has been exempted from the trial since he enjoys immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution. Once he steps down from the position, he will have to face the trial.

The SC has directed the Lucknow court to conduct trial on day-to-day basis continuously without granting any adjournment. The Lucknow court has been hearing on the charges against Kar Sevaks. The apex court has transferred the trial of Advani and others from Rae Bareli court to Lucknow court.

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Ayodhya-Babri Case: SC Adjourns Hearing

New Delhi: SC adjourned the case for two weeks due to non availability of Lawyer Venugopal, who represents Advani in the case. But Supreme Court asked Advani, MM, Joshi and other leaders of BJP who are accused in the case to file their written submissions to the court.

Venugopal, who represents BJP leaders in the court, sought permission as he is appearing before another bench which was accepted by SC.

Hearing should be done on Wednesday but the court pushed to Thursday due to non availability of Nariman. Bench comprises of Justice Ghose and Nariman, who said all parties should  file their arguments in written before April 6th. Hearing is expected on April 7th once these political parties submit their written arguements.

The trail in Raebareli court which includes names of Advani, Joshi and Uma baharathi, was kept on hold. Another case in Lucknow was held, with Karsevaks involved in and around of demolition of the disputed structure.

CBI plea regarding the invoke of conspiracy charges against these leaders was filed in Apex court.

According to CBI plea, they are not in favor of dropping charges against these politicians.

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Ayodhya: Settlement Through Mediation Impossible, Owaisi

Hyderabad: AIMIM President Assaduddin Owaisi felt that Ram mandir-Babri Masjid issue will not be solved if it is outside court and through mediation. Babri Masjid case is related to land but Allahabad Court had looked at it in a different way, said Owaisi speaking to a news paper.

Six attempts were made by previous governments to find amicable solution through talks, which could not succeed. He also suggested that SC should give the judgement based on law but not on beliefs or sentiments.


While Chandra Sekhar’s government was short lived, PV’s attempt was foiled by the BJP which was bent upon felling the disputed structure, Babri Masjid.

Go back by 15 years and read the old newspapers. The then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao had negotiations with heads of Hindu shrines, matts and Islamic religious scholars. He employed Tantrik Chandra Swamy, Media Advisor and IAS officer PVRK Prasad who met several Sankar Acharyas and many other Hindu religious leaders.

The Chief Minister of UP at that time was Kalyan Singh who promised to the prime minister that no untoward incidents would be allowed to happen. He told the court also that no harm would be done to the disputed structure. When it was announced that Kar sevaks will  be gathering at Ayodhya in large numbers, the government of India has sent para-military forces and kept them ready to be deployed as desired by the chief minister. But Kalyan Singh did not make use of them. The Union Government approached the Supreme Court requesting for extraordinary powers to intervene in the matter. But the apex court has refused to grant the request of the union government and,instead, appointed an observer to monitor developments at Ayodhya. The Karsevaks pulled the mosque down with the Union Government watching helplessly. It was a known fact that the top BJP leadership and Hindutva forces, beside UP government, were part of a big conspiracy.  Soon after the Babri Masjid was felled, the Union Government had dismissed four BJP governments in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. While UP government was dismissed immediately after the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, the three other state governments were sacked on December 15. Opposition leader Atal Behari Vajpayee described the decision as a mortal blow to democracy.

Had the BJP given a reasonable time to the then central government to try negotiation process to resolve the dispute, history would have been different.  But it is now an irreversible part of history that the Babri Masjid was demolished, BJP has improved its electoral performance and PV was thrown into political dustbin by Sonia Gandhi and the Congress Party making him responsible for the destruction of the mosque. It was intended to appease Muslims by blaming PV and making him a scape goat instead of taking on the BJP for its mischief in demolition of Babri Masjid.

Now that the same BJP, which foiled an attempt to settle the dispute amicably through mediation when it was in opposition, is in power both in Delhi and Lucknow, it should be possible to hold negotiations with Muslim Personal Law Board representatives and other parties to the dispute. If at all a problem of this nature has to be resolved through mediation, it has to be now when BJP is in power. The suggestion given by the Chief Justice of India can be treated as a last opportunity to solve the dispute failing which the apex court will have to take the call.

But the fact of the matter is that the dispute can never be resolved through negotiations for the same reason cited by the highest court of the land- it is a sentimental and emotional issue. That is why the apex court has to take the responsibility and give a decision considering all the aspects. The political parties and religious organisations have to prepare all sections of the society to accept the decision of the SC bench. That is the only way out.

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Rahul to visit Ayodhya on Friday

NEW DELHI: In a first-ever visit  by a Gandhi since 1992 Babri demolition, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi  is going to Ayodhya on Friday, the fourth day of his Uttar Pradesh tour, where elections will be held early next year.

As no member of the Congress’s first family has visited Ayodhya since the demolition of the Babri Masjid 24 years ago, Rahul’s  visit  may generate considerable interest in political circles.

In Ayodhya, Mr Gandhi will first offer prayers at the famous Hanuman Garhi temple, but it is not clear yet whether he will visit the Ram temple at the disputed Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site, a km away.

It is said, that Rahul Gandhi’s father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had planned to visit the Hanuman Garhi temple in Ayodhya, but could not because of a lack of time. He was assassinated the next year, on May 21, 1991.

Some political pundits suspect a soft Hindutva agenda in the Rahul’s  Ayodhya visit as the Congress follows a Brahmin-centric campaign in Uttar Pradesh prescribed by election strategist Prashant Kishor.  Kishor is directing every move that Mr Gandhi makes on his month-long tour.

“I am happy that he is going. But his party always accused BJP of playing politics whenever we talked about Ram temple or about going there. Rahul has understood the power of Ram,” said the BJP’s Sidharth Nath Singh.

Mr Gandhi will also visit Faizabad tomorrow, where he will conduct a road show. He is also scheduled to visit the Kichaucha Sharif Dargah, a Muslim shrine in Ambedkar Nagar.

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Half Lion, An Outsider’s Portrait of Rao

Venkata Kondubhatla

A new book, Half Lion:How Narasimha Rao Transformed India, by Vinay Sitapati, was released on Rao’s 95th birth anniversary.

The first biography of Rao focuses on his role in economic reforms, foreign policy and his welfare schemes, and tries to analyze Rao’s role in Babri Masjid demolition, paying close attention to the events that lead up to the crisis.


Venkata Kondubhatla

More importantly, two points stick out of this book: First, how Rao was able to implement his revolutionary policies, and yet able to run his minority government for a complete term, and the second, the mosque demolition was a collective responsibility of the Congress Party and that Rao cannot be singled out for all the blame.

The book compares Rao to Deng Xiaoping, who transformed China, and Ronald Reagan of the United States. Both had majority governments and strong support within their parties, whereas Rao had no such support and little power to maneuver the changes. Yet, how this political genius was able to bring about so much change, with so little power is what the narrative tries to answer in this well written biography. With about 110 interviews, access to Rao’s personal dairy and archives,and a great deal of research, the book, Half Lion — titled to suggest that Rao had played lion, fox and mouse to achieve transformation — demystifies the myths about its subject and the first Congress prime minister of India from outside Gandhi family.

A Much Awaited Biography

Rao was a complex person. He spoke little of himself, though in his last days he made an effort to write a series of books to tell his story and the controversies surrounding him. Unfortunately, he died in December 2014,with only one book, The Insider, out that covered his journey from childhood till his chief ministership under Indira Gandhi. The sequel (Insider-2) was written him but not so far published.

Though there was a general discontent among common people regarding Rao’s treatment by Congress Party and downplaying his role in economic reforms, no one-neither his close associates, nor media pundits-has made any significant effort to tell his story to the outside world. Political leaders rarely admired him, and his anniversaries came and went without much celebration at least until 2011.The only politician who regularly attended the memorial meetings held in Delhi was former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh.  Rao was generally ignored and his legacy was slowly being buried. His light has faded except for a few flickers once in a while. This book, however, by an outsider Sitapati, a PHD fellow from Princeton University and a professor at Ashoka University,has started a whole new debate about his legacy.Biography is the orphan of the academia, the author writes in his book and it holds perfectly well at least in the case of books written on Rao.

Rao, The Liberalizer

The book shows readers how Rao implemented reforms by doing away with the cursed permit and license raj, opening up to the foreign investment, and devaluating the Rupee. The author begins by explaining how Rao himself had undergone transformation from being an ardent socialist to a reformist. He writes that Rao was a fixer by instinct, and inheriting India that was on the blink of a default and with economy in crisis, began to address the root cause and started fixing it. Sitapati writes that Rao, soon after becoming prime minister, read an 8-page note on economy given to him by Naresh Chandra, cabinet secretary, at the time, prepared by the previous government. Rao understood that the economy needed reforms soon after reading the report, Sitapati notes. A socialist in the evening was converted into reformer by morning the next day.

The book emphasizes on the point that Rao is the father of the economic liberalization and that without him the reforms could not have happened. He contends that even if Manmohan Singh hadn’t become the finance minister, the reforms would have taken place, as Singh was carrying forward the reforms agenda already conceived by Rao. Any other person as finance minister would have carried out the agenda, though Singh’s contributions to imparting depth to the reforms couldn’t be ignored, Sitapati concludes.

In bringing these reforms, Rao adopts Chanakya and Machiavelli’s strategies-pushing reforms as a continuation of Rajiv’s policies, playing up the poor economy to defend the reforms and so on. Sitapati writes that Rao was a rightist when it came to reforms and leftist when it came to welfare. Rao wanted to distribute the benefits of the liberalization to the poor. His slogan was ‘reforms with a human face’. He didn’t believe in the trickle down effect of economic reforms. Consequently, Rao contributed a lot towards education and other welfare programs by appointing right people for the jobs, such as K.R.Venu Gopal, writes Sitapati. Unlike economy, in education and foreign policy, Rao was an expert. A fast learner, Rao gained an insight into the economic crisis soon after taking over as PM.

Look East Policy

Like economy, foreign policy was also in deep crisis when Rao inherited India. The country had good relations with the Soviet Union, which encumbered relations with the United States. But, the Soviet Union got disintegrated by 1991. Also, southeastern countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand (the tigers) were thriving and India could not maintain a dominant role anymore and needed to reevaluate its relationship more as a strategic partner. India has border clashes with both China and Pakistan. The Latter was also fostering violence in India.

Rao understood all this. He established diplomatic relations with Israel and took the relationship with the United States to the next level. Rao was careful when making new friends not to ignore the old ones. Rao visited Russia before visiting the United States and invited Yasser Arafat,a Palestine leader, before shaking hands with Israeli leaders, writes Sitapati. Rao also put focus on the southeastern countries long ignored by India. When it came to Pakistan, Sitapati notes, Rao wanted the talks to take place regardless of the violence. He wanted to work on the good part of the relationship while addressing the bad part.

Above all, India’s shift from Russia to the United States should be credited to Rao, for Rajiv, who lacked pragmatism and experience, could only take baby steps toward the United States, Sitapati writes.

Poor Rao, Singled Out

The book tries to put its perspective straight in the case of Ayodhya episode: There were two demolitions planned, one was that of the mosque and the other was that of Rao. It meant that Rao was targeted from within his party.

People like Arjun Singh and Sharad Pawar, who were contenders for the prime ministership after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, have turned against Rao after they came to understand that Rao was there to stay in power for the complete term. When Mosque issue came to the foreground, they put pressure on Rao without helping him in resolving the issue. In the Cabinet meeting not one minister had suggested that president rule could be imposed in Uttar Pradesh in which State the disputed structure was situated. The governor of UP, Mr Satyanarayana Reddy, sent a report to the Centre that there was no need of imposing president’s rule. The state was under BJP’s rule at the time with Kalyan Singh as chief minister, in whom Rao had no faith.

Rao feared that if he imposed president’s rule, he would have to face a no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha and his government would fall, writes Sitapati. Rao was desperately looking for someone to support him to impose president’s rule and no one was willing to categorically support him, including CCPA, the Congress core group, and Jyothi Basu, the CPI chief minister of West Bengal.Even the Supreme Court ruled against it.

So, Rao, with limited options, held secret parleys with Hindu religious leaders and swamis, and obtained promises from prominent leaders, such as L.K. Advani, of leaving the mosque untouched. All of them reneged on their promises. Rao overestimated himself when it came to reconciling the Hindu leaders. Nonetheless, the book argues, it is a collective responsibility of all the Congress leaders in demolition of the mosque.

Sitapati throws light on building the nuclear device at the behest of Rao which he could not detonate before the 1996 general elections  because of acute pressure from Bill Clinton, the then US president. Rao told Vajpayee, as soon the latter took over as PM in 1998,that the ‘saamagri’ (the material) is ready and it is for him to decide when to ignite it.

A Valuable Addition

The book presented a lot of controversial and debatable material, yet attracted little criticism. Sanjaya Baru, author of the book on Dr Manmohan Singh titled “The Accidental Prime Minister,” and also a close associate of Rao, said in an interview given to The Wire that Rao’s portrait was well depicted, though he differed with the book on how Rao had become prime minister.

Baru contended thatRao was not a nominated prime minister, as the book claims. People close to Sonia Gandhi, ‘Delhi durbar’ as he called it, have fabricated the story of Sonia nominating Rao as her second choice after Shankar Dayal Sharma declined. As per Baru, a secret ballot was held in which the South had supported Rao, and therefore, Rao won majority MPs compared to his fellow contenders Arjun Singh and Sharad Pawar and had beaten them. Nonetheless, Baru said, the book has covered all the topics excellently after scrupulous research.

Also, throughout the author has maintained accuracy in his book. Though, he treated Rao fairly in case of economic reforms, foreign policy and Babri Masjid, he was critical of him when it came to his relationships with Lakshmi Kanthamma and Kalyani Shankar, and Rao’s political corruption – bribing politicians to protect his minority government, though he was not personally corrupt.

The book is a valuable addition to the literary work on India, and a great contribution to the legacy of the former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.

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