Babri Demolition: Vajpai, Advani Joshi Indicted
Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and ex-UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh are among the 68 persons severely indicted by Justice M S Liberhan Commission for their role in the Babri Masjid demolition 17 years ago, which led the country to a “brink of communal discord.”
The commission, surprisingly, is soft on Congressman and the then Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao for his perceived ‘inaction’ in deploying Central forces or imposing President’s Rule in then BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh to protect the 16th century structure, purported to have been built during the reign of Mughal emperor Babar. The commission refers to it as the Ram Janam Bhoomi--Babri Masjid structure (RJBM) and has clarified that its role was not to study if the structure was a mosque or a temple or even its history.
In his 1,029-page report, Justice Liberhan, a former Chief Justice of Madras High Court, indicts the perpetuators for having reduced “…. the oldest civilisation to stark intolerance and barbarianism, all for petty political gains.”
Coming down heavily on the troika of Advani, Vajpayee and Joshi, Justice Liberhan calls them “pseudo-moderates" and refers to them as “icons” of the movement. “It cannot be assumed even for a moment that LK Advani, AB Vajpayee and MM Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar”, says the commission in its findings, while adding that it was “….unable to hold even these pseudo-moderates innocent of any wrong doings …. this commission has no hesitation in condemning there pseudo-moderates for their sins of omission", the report said
“It stands beyond doubt that the events of the day were neither spontaneous nor unplanned nor an unforeseen overflowing of the people's emotion”, the commission said.
The commission also indicts Uma Bharti, RSS ideologue K Govindacharya and Shankar Singh Vaghela --- all three, along with Kalyan Singh, are no more connected with the BJP or the RSS.
Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include, Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray, late BJP leaders Pramod Mahajan and Vijayraje Scindia. Among the bureaucrats who were named in the report were then Principal Secretary (Home) in UP Prabhat Kumar, then IG (Security) AK Saran and then SSP of Faizabad DB Roy.
Castigating Kalyan Singh for having betrayed the rule of law, the commission says, “Kalyan Singh entered into a ‘joint common enterprise’ for the purpose of demolition of the disputed structure”.
This was to construct or any other substantive act to show to the karsevaks that construction of temple had started by the government. “ …..This was essential for use in elections in the future”.
The police and the administration were openly supporting the RSS agenda. The commission goes on to add “ ….there was active and willing collusion between the state administration and the political executive… did not take even token steps to stop the demolition or control the mob”.
The commission said, “The leaders saw the Ayodhya issue as their road to success and sped down this highway mindless of the casualties they scattered about”, said the commission. “The BJP was and remains an appendage of the RSS which had the purpose of only providing an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a facade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar,” the report noted.
The commission also makes remarks about others: “The intransigent stance of the UP High Court, the obdurate attitude of the Governor (He had warned the Central government against imposition of President’s Rule in the state), the irresponsibility of the Supreme Court observer (A lawyer of the UP High court who was not even present when the masjid was demolished by karsevaks) and the short sightedness of the apex court, itself are fascinating complex stories”. On the Central government’s role, Justice Liberhan hints that the Centre could have issued direction under article 257 of the Constitution that allows deployment of Central forces in any state to control the law and order situation. The commission has divided the leaders, bureaucrats and the organisations into three groups with the first representing those who bear the “primary and the greatest” responsibility. The commission said the second group consists of those who bear physical, ideological and intellectual responsibility, while the third one represented those who bear tertiary responsibility for the situation.