With the CBI court acquitting all the accused in the Babri-Masjid demolition case, it’s curtains to a long-drawn chapter in the history of India’s Hindu-Muslim conflicts.
Twenty eight years after the Babri Masjid was demolished by a mob in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, all the 32 accused were acquitted by a Special CBI Court at Lucknow on Wednesday. In his 2000-page verdict, Special CBI Judge S K Yadav ruled that there was no conspiracy involved and the demolition wasn’t premeditated.
The incident happened on 6 December 1992 when a mob of Kar Sevaks razed down the 16th-century mosque claiming that it was built on land which was the birthplace of Lord Ram. Of the 49 accused initially, 17 died in the course of time. This included Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Ashok Singhal. The remaining key accused included former deputy prime minister L K Advani, former union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh among others. The verdict noted that the accused leaders ‘tried to stop the anti-social elements that tried to damage the structure.’
Some pointers from the verdict:
- The demolition was not premeditated and there was no conspiracy behind it
- There was no clear evidence against the accused
- The authenticity behind the audio and video provided by CBI couldn’t be verified
- The audio of the speech was not clear.
The verdict comes after the Supreme Court, in April 2017, terming the demolition ‘a crime that shook the secular fabric of the constitution.’
In November 2019, the Apex Court through its ruling paved for the construction of Ram Mandir at the disputed site. With the latest verdict, its curtains to a dark chapter that became a permanent blot on the secular credentials of the country.
Before we move on with our lives, a quick look at the timeline of the events that led up to the verdict:
Timeline 1 – Construction to Demolition
1528: Mughal Emperor Babur constructs the Babri Masjid mosque at Ayodhya
1949: The idol of Hindu deity Ram appears inside the mosque. Hindu and Muslim representatives files cases and government locks up the ‘disputed site.’
1984: VHP starts a campaign to build a temple at the site. L K Advani becomes the face of the movement
1986: Court allows Hindus to pray at the site
1989: Rajiv Gandhi’s nod for VHP’s shilanyas at the site
1990: First attempt to demolish the mosque. The Janata Dal government in UP stops it.
1992: Lakhs rally to the site and finally demolishes the mosque
Timeline 2 – Clash of the Courts and final acquittal
1992: FIRs registered and Liberhan commission appointed to look into events that led up to the demolition
1993: Trial moved to a special court in Lalitpur and then to Rae Bareily, CBI files charge sheet
1996: Criminal conspiracy charges added
2001: Criminal conspiracy charges dropped
2003: Rae Bareily court discharges Advani citing lack of evidence
2005: Allahabad HC restarts trial without conspiracy charges
2010: The court upholds 2001 order
2012: CBI approaches SC
2017: SC reinstates criminal conspiracy charge
2019: SC allows Ram Mandir to be constructed on the site and commissions a trust for the same. A five-acre plot given to Muslims to build an alternate mosque
2020: All accused acquitted by CBI court
Also… some quick numbers
- 150,000: Number of people that took part in the rally organised by VHP and BJP to the site of the mosque.
- 2,000: Number of lives lost in the riots that followed the Babri demolition
- 1026: Number of witnesses tracked by CBI
- 600: Number of documents produced by CBI before the court
- 351: Number of witnesses who deposed before the court
- 49: Number of accused
- Rs 8 Crore: Amount spent on Liberhan commission appointed to look into the events that led up to the demolition
- Rs 300 Crore: Estimated cost of construction of the new Ram Mandir
And.. some responses on social media
And if you want to go deep…
- N13 recommended watch: Anand Patvardhan’s 1992 documentary, Ram Ke Naam, explored the intense VHP campaign, to build a Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
- N13 recommended read: Here’s an interesting BBC report “ Babri mosque: The build-up to a demolition that shook India’, which offers a blow-by-blow account of what happened before the Babri Mosque demolition.