A mob that believed the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was built on the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram demolished it. Almost 28 years after the mosque was pulled down on December 6, 1992 by Hindu hardliners, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court is expected to pronounce its verdict against the alleged conspirators on September 30.
Thirty-two persons accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case that led to communal riots in which almost 1,800 people were killed, are on trial. This includes veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani – former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s right hand man – former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, and BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, and Sakshi Maharaj, along with Mahant Nritya Gopal Das of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.
Advani, Joshi, and Bharti – who were all top BJP leaders in the 1990s – have been accused of criminal conspiracy, under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), that resulted in the demolition of the 15th century mosque.
Advani and others had previously been charged under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
The CBI court also framed charges against several other persons related to the Sangh Parivar, such as BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar, ex-Lok Sabha MP Ram Vilas Vedanti, Hindu religious leader Mahant Dharam Das, and Vishva Hindu Parishad leaders Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Sadhvi Ritambhara, and Champat Rai. The list includes former Thane mayor and Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan.
Advani and Joshi have both recorded their statements in the case before the special CBI court denying all charges and will not be present in the court. MP Sakshi Maharaj has also appeared in court and categorically denied that he conspired in the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque.