Babri Masjid case: All 32 accused, including LK Advani, acquitted
Almost three decades after the Babri Masjid was razed by right-wing activists, a special court has acquitted all the 32 accused, including BJP veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. The special CBI court was put on a deadline by the Supreme Court to deliver the verdict. The court maintained that there wasn't enough evidence to prove the demolition was pre-planned.
Background: A demolition that changed India's socio-cultural fabric
In December 1992, hundreds of karsewaks arrived in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, to raze down the mosque, claiming it was built on the ruins of a temple where Lord Rama took human form. After the mosque was demolished, India witnessed widespread Hindu-Muslim riots, that took the lives of hundreds. However, last year, SC ended the conflict, by allowing the construction of the Ram Temple.
Two cases were filed, one for conspiracy, another for instigation
To note, two cases — one pertaining to the conspiracy for the mosque's demolition and another related to instigating right-wing activists — were filed. 49 people were booked, but 17 have passed away. The trial for the case linked to conspiracy happened in a Lucknow court, and the one involving instigation was being heard in Raebareli. In 2017, SC had combined both the cases.
BJP was accused of fanning religious tensions
The demolition, although helped BJP gain a political foothold, also invited flak for the party. The saffron party was accused of flaming religious tensions and looking the other way when its leaders made hate-filled comments. Besides Advani and Joshi, renowned leaders like Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and Vinay Katiyar were also named as accused. Earlier, Bharti had commented she doesn't fear punishment.
Advani was asked over 100 questions, he denied accusations
The proceedings in this sensitive matter lasted months, with the accused being questioned for hours at stretch. In July, 92-year-old Advani was asked over 100 questions, but he denied all the charges. The statements of all accused were recorded under CrPC Section 313. On September 1, the defense submitted written arguments. A week prior to that, the prosecution had also submitted its arguments.
Not enough evidence, said court while acquitting all accused
Today, while announcing the verdict, Special Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav said there was not enough evidence to show the demolition was pre-planned. The court also asserted that the authenticity of audio and video provided by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) couldn't be ascertained. As he gave a clean chit to the accused, he noted that anti-social elements brought down the mosque.