All 32 acquitted in Babri demolition case due to 'lack of proof'; defence claims Singhal, Advani tried to save structure
The court said that the demolition was not pre-planned and that the people who demolished the mosque were ‘anti-national elements’. The accused people were, in fact, trying to control the crowds, the CBI court observed.
A special CBI court today settled a 28-year-old controversy in favour of the Hindu nationalist forces as it acquitted all 32 accused in the demolition of Babri Mosque that was razed to the ground by a mob following a polarising campaign on 6 December 1992. The verdict, however, was as controversial as the case itself, as the right wing politicians claimed they felt vindicated, while many others termed it a 'travesty of justice'
Key accused in the case included BJP veterans LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti along with several other workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The court, deciding on whether or not the demolition was a result of a pre-meditated plan, cleared all accused of conspiracy charges as there was no "conclusive proof" against the accused. It not only cleared all 32 people of all charges, but also noted that they had "tried to control" the mob of 'anti-national elements' who destroyed the structure.
Court says accused tried to stop mob from attacking structure
Delivering the verdict on the day of his retirement, as special Judge SK Yadav began reading the 2,000-page order on Wednesday, he observed that evidence against the accused was not strong enough and the Babri Mosque demolition incident "was not pre-planned". The court observed that the people who demolished the mosque were “anti-national elements”. The accused people were, in fact, trying to control the crowds, the judgement added.
Yadav did not accept newspaper reports and video cassettes as evidence. The court also observed that the late Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal wanted to save the structure because Ram idols were inside.
The verdict comes less than a year after the Supreme Court's historic judgment in the related Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute that paved the way for the construction of a temple at the Ayodhya site.
The apex court verdict had called the demolition an egregious violation of the rule of law.
But combined with the bhoomi pujan' for the Ram temple only last month, the verdict in the demolition case has come as boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party. It also helps bring the temple issue centre stage just weeks before the party faces assembly polls in Bihar.
The 32 accused persons include former deputy prime minister Advani, former Union ministers Joshi and Uma Bharti, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure the structure was pulled down, besides Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara. Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the temple, is also among the accused.
The CBI, which went into the case, produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 16 had died during the course of the trial.
Twenty-six out of the 32 accused were present in the special court when the judgment was pronounced. Advani (92), Joshi (86), Bharti (61), Singh (88), Nritya Gopal Das, and Satish Pradhan were not present in court and attended proceedings via video conferencing on Wednesday.
On 16 September, CBI judge SK Yadav had directed all 32 surviving accused to remain present in the court for the judgment. However, six of them were exempted from being present in person – including Bharti and Kalyan Singh who are in hospital due to COVID-19 – had joined the hearing on Wednesday via video conference.
In one of the first reactions to the Babri conspiracy case verdict, Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted "Jai Shri Ram". "All the accused, including Advaniji, acquitted. There was no pre-planned conspiracy to demolish the Babri structure," he added.
जय श्री राम ।Advaniji सहित सभी अभियुक्त दोष मुक्त।बाबरी ढाँचा गिराने में कोई पूर्व नियोजित षड्यंत्र नहीं था।#BabriVerdict
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) September 30, 2020
“I was witness to the entire incident of 6 December,” the Bihar minister further added. “It was all spontaneous no conspiracy. I was conducting the meeting from dais I was surprised when some Kar Sewaks climbed the Babri structure. Advani ji was unhappy. Satyameva Jayate!”
Reacting to the verdict, the two accused BJP leaders, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi also reacted to the judgement, welcoming it. Senior BJP leader Advani said he welcomes the significant verdict. He adds that the judgement “vindicates my personal and BJP’s belief towards the Ram Janmabhoomi movement”, as per NDTV reports.
"It's a historic decision by the court. This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for December 6 incident in Ayodhya. Our program and rallies were not part of any conspiracy. We are happy, everyone should now be excited about Ram Mandir's construction," BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said after the verdict, news agency ANI reported.
Defence Minister and BJP leader Rajnath Singh welcomed the CBI court’s judgment, saying "It proves that justice triumphed however late it may be."
लखनऊ की विशेष अदालत द्वारा बाबरी मस्जिद विध्वंस केस में श्री लालकृष्ण आडवाणी, श्री कल्याण सिंह, डा. मुरली मनोहर जोशी, उमाजी समेत ३२ लोगों के किसी भी षड्यंत्र में शामिल न होने के निर्णय का मैं स्वागत करता हूँ। इस निर्णय से यह साबित हुआ है कि देर से ही सही मगर न्याय की जीत हुई है।
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 30, 2020
Welcoming the CBI court's verdict in Babri Masjid demolition case, BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted saying: "Truth triumphs". "CBI court’s acquittal in Babri conspiracy case was long overdue. A malicious case against some of the most respected leaders of our nation has fallen aside finally after 3 decades," said Madhav.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, however, expressed outrage over the judgment.
Calling the judgement "obnoxious", he claimed it was 'contrary' to the Supreme Court'sobservations in its verdict on 9 November last year that the demolition of the Babri mosque was a calculated act of destroying a public place of worship and aviolation of rule of law. "...If the Supreme Court says that egregious violation of rule of law, was masjid sacrificed on December 6 (1992) by any magic ? Were the idols kept bymagic in 1949? Were the locks opened when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister by magic? Thats why I say that todays judgement is contrary to what the Supreme Court said," he told reporters .
Questioning how there was no conspiracy behind the pulling down of the structure, he asked who had called for the huge gathering of people and who facilitaed it. Isn't it true that the CBI charge-sheet said that then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh said rok construction par hai, destruction par nahi hai' (curbs are on construction, not destruction), Owaisi said.
Maintaining that all these were facts, he sought to know how all the accused have been exonerated.
The mosque was pulled down on 6 December, 1992, by mobs of kar sevaks who maintained that it was built during the time of the first Mughal ruler at the spot which marked the birthplace of Ram temple.
In a landmark judgment last year, the Supreme Court allotted the disputed site in Ayodhya for the construction of a Ram temple, while calling the demolition of the mosque a violation of the rule of law.
The top court had also said that the demolition of Babri Masjid was illegal and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque.
The earlier deadline set by the Supreme Court for the special CBI court to pronounce verdict was August-end. It was extended by a month on 22 August.
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