Babri Masjid case- Advani, Joshi, Bharti exempted from personal appearance
A special CBI court has exempted BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti from personal appearance during the ongoing Babri Masjid case trial. Their counsels had quoted Advani and Joshi's old age, and Bharti's extensive travel, as reason for exemption. However, they will have to appear whenever they are required, the court said.
Babri Masjid: What is the issue all about?
The Babri Masjid was built by Mughal emperor Babar in 1528. Hindus claim that a Ram temple that originally stood there was demolished to construct the mosque. The Babri Masjid dispute has been a decisive factor driving Hindu-Muslim communal relations in India. 1992 demolition and ensuing riots considerably soured inter-community relations. CBI alleges that the perpetrators were falsely acquitted earlier due to technical reasons.
How did the demolition happen?
In 1984, the VHP led by Home Minister LK Advani began a campaign to "liberate" the "Ramjanmabhoomi" and build a temple in its place. In 1990, VHP volunteers accompanying LK Advani on a "rathyatra" partially damaged the structure. In 1991, BJP came to power in UP. In 1992, VHP and Shiv Sena volunteers demolished the mosque sparking communal riots across India, killing 2000 people.
Babri Masjid: CBI court charges accused BJP-leaders with criminal conspiracy
Senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi were granted bail after a CBI Special Court implicated them for their role in the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. The accused were charged with criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. The CBI judge also implicated those including Hindu preacher Sadhvi Ritambara and BJP leader Vinay Katiyar.
The accused leaders submitted a discharge application pleading 'not guilty'. The court framed charges after the application got rejected. Bail was granted to leaders including Advani and Joshi on a personal bond of Rs. 50,000.
There was no conspiracy
Union minister Uma Bharti asserted that "there was no conspiracy and that everything was out in the open." "When something happened in front of lakhs of people, how come only 10-20 people are being charged?" wondered BJP leader Vinay Katiyar. Katiyar further testified that BJP leaders took no part in inciting the demolition, but tried to dissuade the perpetrators to no avail.
Who said what?
Union Minister and BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu noted that "the accused are innocent and will come out unscathed." Sakshi Maharaj, BJP legislator further noted that "no power on earth can stop the construction of the Ram temple." According to BJP leader and political commentator Subramanian Swamy, the court's decision will not affect the leaders' future as they are innocent in the SC's eyes.
All for the Ram temple
Speaking to TV channels, Lok Sabha MP from Pratapgarh, Ram Vilas Vedanti stated that the construction of the Ram temple would begin on 6 December 2018. Owning up responsibility for his participation in the demolition, Vedanti maintained that the mosque was built on Ram's birthplace (Ram Lalla) and added that he was willing to be punished if found guilty.