You are here: Home » Politics » News » National
Business Standard

From Narasimha Rao to L K Advani: The faces of the Babri era

While Rao will be remembered for his inaction, Advani faces additional charges of criminal conspiracy

Nibir Deka  |  New Delhi 

File photo of BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti
File photo of BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti

On December 6, 1992, a large crowd of Hindu 'Kar Sevaks' demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, which is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site led by the and the BJP involving 150,000 'kar sevaks' turned violent. Two FIRs were filed in the aftermath of the demolition. FIR no. 197 deals with actual “demolition of the mosque by kar sevaks” and FIR no. 198 named BJP leaders and Murli Manohar Joshi, former UP chief minister and current governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh, founding president of and former MP Vinay Katiyar, current cabinet minister Uma Bharati, leader and others for ‘communal’ speeches before the demolition. FIR no. 198 alleges offences under Section 153-A of the (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, language, etc), Section 153-B (assertions prejudicial to integration) and Section 505 (statements amounting to public mischief). Another 46 FIRs pertaining to cognizable offences and one pertaining to non-cognisable offences were also lodged. Further, section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) was added. On October 5, 1993, the filed a consolidated charge sheet against 48 persons in all, including the names of Balasaheb Thackeray, Kalyan Singh, BJP leader Ram Bilas Vadanti, former General Secretary Ashok Singhal, BJP MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, and others. A subsequent inquiry into the incident by the led by submitted its findings to the government after an inquiry of nearly 17 years. It found 68 people responsible for the demolition. termed Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi as pseudo-moderates, pretending to keep a distance from the campaign when they were actually aware of the whole conspiracy. A report in The Hindu, quoted Justice Liberhan as saying, “It cannot be assumed even for a moment that L K Advani, or M M Joshi did not know the designs of the Even though these leaders were deemed and used by the Parivar to reassure the cautious masses, they were [in fact] party to the decisions which had been taken.” The on April 19, 2017 revived conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi and 13 others in the 25-year-old demolition cases. Throughout the timeline of the proceedings, several charges and allegations have been levied against the names involved in an incident that shook the secular fabric of the Constitution. L K Advani: According to the Indian Express, the chargesheet alleges that Advani asserted that the kar seva to be held at Ayodha “would not mean only bhajan and kirtan, but would also involve construction of the Shri ” It adds that the final decision to demolish the disputed structure was taken on December 5, 1992, at “a secret meeting” which was “held at the residence of and was attended by Advani." While the demolition was in progress, the chargesheet says Advani instructed the public to block the highway so that forces do not reach Ayodha. He also told Kalyan Singh, not to tender his resignation to the governor of UP till the disputed structure was completely demolished. Uma Bharti: The chargesheet says that she had shouted at Ayodhya, “Ek dhakka aur do, tod do (Bring down with a solitary blow)”. It adds she had told that the had not told them to demolish but only to not do construction work and hence they are removing the black spot from the nation’s forehead. Following the prosecution in April 2017, Uma Bharti refuted claims about her speech and told TV channels, "I did not give any speech on December 6, 1992.

When we reached the site, the demolition had already begun. There was no opportunity to give any speech". Kalyan Singh: Though he wasn't present at the time of occurrence, the former UP chief minister was still found prima facie guilty u/s 120-B of had given assurance to the Integration Council that the disputed structure wouldn't be razed and the had permitted only symbolic ‘kar seva’ to be performed at the site. At his swearing-in as chief minister, Singh and Joshi visited along with members of his cabinet and party legislators, where they allegedly took a vow to construct the temple, the chargesheet claims. A conspiracy was hatched with the people being trained by the of Gujarat. In pursuance of this, acquired 2.77 acres of land in October 1991 "under the pretext of developing the land for tourism purposes.” made statements and gave public speeches indicative of his involvement in the matter. Murli Manohar Joshi: According to the investigation, had said at Mathura that no force can stop the construction of He was accused of encouraging the from the manch to carry out the demolition and for shouting provocative slogans. Brij Bhushan Singh: On December 6, 1992, Brij Bhushan Singh, who is serving as MP from Gowda was allegedly in and provoked the He has also been accused of sheltering some and facilitating their journey to As cited in the Times of India, in December 2012, the special court in Lucknow hearing the demolition case issued a non-bailable warrant against him, for his continuous absence from the court during the trial. P V Narasimha Rao: The Prime Minister's tenure is well known for his inaction during the demolition. NDTV has reported recent revelations by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyyar, in which he said that Rao possessed a “pro-hindu mindset” and was convinced that by talking to the sadhus and saints, he could solve the problem. The Congress leader maintained that Rao could have dismissed the government and imposed President's Rule in Uttar Pradesh. Excerpts from the memoirs of former Union Minister Arjun Singh, published posthumously, reveal the PM's inaction over the issue. Administration: Accused public servants R N Srivastava, (then District Magistrate of Faziabad) and Sri D B Rai (then SSP of Faizabad who later became Member of Lok Sabha from BJP) and were well aware that the central para-military forces were duly equipped with riot gear and plastic and rubber bullets to avoid casualties. Majority of the UP officers indicted by the for their role in the demolition have since retired. Other leaders: The special judge S K Yadav also asked Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and Hindutva preacher to remain present before the court in person. The held culpable of leading the country "to the brink of communal discord" for her role in the demolition of the Masjid. She was one of the three key women leaders of the movement, the other two being and Vijayaraje Scindia; their leadership was largely responsible for the involvement of women in the movement and the form it took. Her speech “Haan Hum HINDU Hain (Yes, we are Hindus)” preceding the aftermath of the demolition is still available on social media portals. One of the prime accused, reiterates that there was no conspiracy. “Whatever happened that day took place in front of lakhs of people. Nothing took place in a closed room,” he told Times Now TV channel following the hearing on April. Another accused, BJP leader Ram Vilas Vedanti, told TV reporters, “I told the court in clear terms that the structure was built over Ramlalla. And I am responsible for breaking the structure. If I am found guilty, I am ready to go to jail or be hanged.”

First Published: Sat, December 02 2017. 11:44 IST