25th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition: What Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others said
On 6 December, 1992, the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party organised a rally in Ayodhya involving over 1.5 lakh volunteers, known as kar sevaks
On Wednesday, it will be 25 years since the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which incited communal violence throughout the country. This will be a day after the Supreme Court begins the final hearing in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute from Tuesday.
On 6 December, 1992, the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organised a rally in Ayodhya involving over 1.5 lakh volunteers, known as kar sevaks. Soon, the rally turned violent, and the crowd overwhelmed security forces before demolishing the 16th Century Babri Masjid. This prompted communal riots across the country in which more than 2,000 people lost their lives.
Among those present at the rally were senior figures in the BJP LK Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi. In 2009, a report by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan found 68 people to be responsible for the demolition of the mosque, most of who were from the BJP. Among those named were Atal Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi and Vijay Raje Scindia.
The Liberhan Commission, which was established by the government ten days after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, said that then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh had posted bureaucrats and police officers to the city whose record suggested that they would not act during the mosque’s demolition.
Here is what the stakeholders in the case and other prominent voices have said since the incident:
Kalyan Singh: I apologise
In 2012, addressing reporters in Kalyan, Singh said that he owns full responsibility for the demolition of the mosque, thus reigniting the controversial dispute.
"As chief minister of UP, I had ordered police not to fire at Ram bhakts who had assembled at Ayodhya in 1992 during the Ram temple movement, which led to demolition of the Babri mosque. I take full responsibility," he said, according to The Times of India.
Uma Bharti: I was involved; I'm unrepentant
After a special CBI court charged Advani, Joshi and Bharti with criminal conspiracy in the case in 2017, Bharti said she did not consider herself an accused and dismissed the charges of conspiracy.
"It was an open movement like the one that happened against the Emergency," she said, The Hindu reported.
“This country belongs to the cow, Ganga, Ram and the tricolour. I will defend them if they are insulted,” Bharti was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. "Why should I regret it? I was involved in the Ayodhya incident. I remain unrepentant.”
Sakshi Maharaj: It was punya
Co-accused BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said nobody can stop the construction of a Ram temple on the disputed soil.
"It was punya. I did not commit any crime…No force can stop the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya,” he said.
"There has been no decision since 1992. Many people died in course of the case. Justice should be done quickly. And the same hurry should be shown in the construction of a Ram Mandir," he added.
Swapan Dasgupta: BJP cannot say they weren't involved
Political columnist Swapan Dasgupta said a "small cabal, not 68 people, was responsible", although the BJP bore "larger moral responsibility", according to The Guardian.
"I was there on the day and many BJP leaders had led people there. They cannot say they were not involved. But to anyone under 30 in India, about 500 million people, this is all irrelevant. India's moved on," he said.
Mani Shankar Aiyar: Rao's mindset encouraged destruction
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao's "pro-Hindu mindset" encouraged the destruction of the Babri Masjid, according to NDTV.
"Rao was completely convinced that by talking to the sadhus and saints he could solve the problem (the Ram temple dispute)," he said.
Aiyar added that even after the mosque's demolition, Rao explained to a Congress Parliamentary Party meeting in Delhi that "even kings in ancient India used to consult sages and sadhus and so did I". "Was this a mindset of a 20th century prime minister or 12th century? This mindset actually encouraged the destruction of Babri Masjid," he said, according to the report.
AIMPLB: Give away land and win hearts
Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that Muslims should peacefully accept the decision of the Supreme Court even if the verdict goes against the community, The Times of India reported.
He went on to say Muslims should give the disputed land away to live in harmony. "I would rather urge the community to give away the disputed land to Hindus whose feelings are so deeply attached to the place." Clarifying his view, he said, "By giving away a piece of land, the community can win millions of hearts," the report said.
Asaduddin Owaisi: Who is Mohan Bhagwat to declare building of Ram Mandir?
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, while delivering a public address in Hyderabad, said BJP is playing the divide and rule policy while dealing with the dispute.
"Who is Mohan Bhagwat to declare outrightly that a Ram Mandir will be built there? He may be the chief of RSS, but not Supreme Court chief justice. If he thinks he can generate fear among the Muslim community by making such statements, then he is wrong. Even we are waiting for the decision, let us not forget that this is a title suit, not a partition suit," he said.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court stated that the "disputed land was Ram's birthplace", that the "mosque was built after the demolition of a temple" and that "it was not built in accordance with the tenets of Islam". It had ruled that the disputed land would be divided into three equal parts – Ram Lalla for the construction of the Ram temple, the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining to Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination.
In 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court after the Sunni Central Wakf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, the All-India Hindu Mahasabha and Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman filed appeals.
The unanimous appeal by all parties to return to status quo prompted Justice Alam to say, "At least on one issue, all of you are unanimous. The high court has granted a new relief, which nobody has asked for. The high court has done something on its own. It has to be stayed."
In March 2017, the Supreme Court has asked for 'an amicable, out-of-court settlement' in the dispute. A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that they believed this "to be a better course of action than insisting on a judicial pronouncement."
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