On Wednesday, close to 28 years after the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya was destroyed, a special court in Lucknow will pronounce a verdict in a criminal case in which several senior BJP leaders such as LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti are on trial.
The mosque was brought down by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992 after a rath yatra led by then-BJP president Advani ended in Ayodhya. More than 2,000 people reportedly lost their lives in the riots that occurred after the demolition.
There are 32 surviving accused in the case, and a CBI court had on September 16 asked all the accused to be present in court.
PTI reported that it was not clear if Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti will be present in court since they were both recovering from Covid-19 in separate hospitals.
Bharti, who was in Ayodhya on the day of the demolition, has repeatedly said that she did not regret the incident, which set the stage for the party’s meteoric rise in India.
She had told news channel AajTak, “I am happy to be an accused in the Ayodhya movement case. Being an accused in Ayodhya movement is not a taint. I consider this as a chandan tilak on forehead.”
The Narendra Modi government has asked all states to beef up security in communally sensitive areas, said reports,
The Hindu reported that the alert to all states claimed that Muslim organisations could resort to protests if the accused were acquitted and that the verdict could have an effect on “law and order situation” because of fringe elements from “both sides”.
Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the Ram temple, is also among those accused.
PTI reported that CBI produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 17 have died during the course of trial.
In September 2019, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, delivered its verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit, ruling that the total 2.77 acre area of disputed land would be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla. It, however, noted that the mosque’s demolition was “an egregious violation of the rule of law”.
On August 5, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Ayodhya temple, which is being built where the mosque once stood.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, the lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties in the Babri Masjid Ram Mandir case, had told HuffPost India in an interview earlier this year that Supreme Court judgments going back to the 60s had contributed to the “Hindu-isation” of India
“That is how a transformation in the country has taken place. Mild at first and then it becomes stronger because of the rath yatra and Babri Masjid and stronger and stronger and stronger until we reach the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). So the Hindu fundamentalism was always there but its muscularity has suddenly made it offensive,” said Dhawan.
(with PTI inputs)