A special CBI court in Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all the 32 accused, including BJP veterans LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kalyan Singh in the Babri Masjid demolition case of December 6, 1992. In the 2,300-page verdict, Special CBI judge SK Yadav said the demolition of the mosque was a spontaneous incident and not a pre-planned one, as alleged. The Court also said there was no conclusive proof against the accused who tried to stop the demolition being carried out by “anti-social” elements. The judge said the audio and video evidence produced by the CBI did not establish conspiracy charges. "The audio of the speeches was also not clear," he said.
Money Control takes a look at the main accused and their and what they are doing today:
Lal Krishna Advani, 92: Then: BJP President. Now: retired
India's former Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani was BJP president on December 6, 1992. Advani assumed the leadership of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1984, four years after BJP was founded. Advani is arguably the most prominent BJP leader acquitted by the Court on Wednesday. He was the flag-bearer of the rath yatra of 1990 which mobilised support for the demand for construction of a Ram Mandir at the site where the Babri Masjid had stood since the 16th century. Advani was present at the site of demolition in Ayodhya on the day the mosque was demolished, along with other leaders. The BJP came to power as part of the NDA in 1998, and Advani became Union Home Minister and later the Deputy Prime Minister.
Today, the construction of the Ram Mandir is set to begin after a go-ahead by the Supreme Court last year and Advani stands acquitted of charges about his role in Babri Masjid demolition. In its verdict on Wednesday, the court said it could not find any evidence to support the charge of conspiracy against the leaders in question.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the judgement by the special court in Babri Masjid demolition case. The judgement vindicates my personal and BJP’s belief and commitment toward the Ram Janmabhoomi movement,” Advani said after the judgement.
Kalyan Singh, 88: Then: CM Uttar Pradesh. Now: retired
Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished, and went on to be known as one of the pioneers of the Hindutva movement, along the likes of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti —all acquitted today in the demolition case. Though Singh switched sides and quit the BJP two times in between, yet he would never shy away from admitting that he was proud of his decision to deny permission to the police to act against the kar sewaks during the demolition of the mosque. He resigned within hours of the demolition but served another term as CM of Uttar Pradesh in 1997, apart from several terms as MLA from Atrauli, near Aligarh (UP) for Jana Sangh, Janata Party and BJP. He has also been Governor of Rajasthan till September 2019. Singh became Uttar Pradesh CM for the first time in June 1991, a year before the Babri Masjid demolition, his claim to fame, as many would say. Before his swearing-in, however, he visited the disputed structure and paid obeisance to the idols placed there followed by a vow to construct a temple. In the verdict on Wednesday, the Court said that even though Kalyan Singh took responsibility for not providing security, the CBI had failed to produce a crucial police notebook, and hence he has been acquitted. Singh was infected with COVID-19 and has been undergoing treatment at a hospital in Ghaziabad since September 16. “This is a historic verdict. I had full faith in the country’s judicial system. I was recovering from COVID-19 and this judgement has made me feel even better,” Singh was quoted in a statement after the verdict.
Uma Bharti, 61. Then: BJP leader. Now: BJP leader
Former Union Minister Uma Bharti, one of the prime accused in the case, was present at the demolition site on December 6, 1992. Since then she had seen many ups and downs and went on to become Union Minister and BJP vice president. Bharti was dropped as party vice president in the recent overhaul announced by party president JP Nadda. Bharti was accused of raising slogans like like "Ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do" at the site, according to the CBI chargesheet -- a charge that couldn’t be proven in the court on Wednesday. Like Kalyan Singh, Bharti had also said that she had no regrets about what happened on that fateful day. She had even told news channel Aaj Tak that she was happy to be an accused in the Ayodhya case as it was not a taint. She has also been CM of Madhya Pradesh in 2003-2005, was expelled from the party and came back only to become a Union Minister later. She decided not to contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. She was Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation in the previous Narendra Modi government. Currently recovering from COVID-19, Bharti wrote to party president JP Nadda ahead of the verdict that she would prefer to be hanged than seek bail in the case.
Murli Manohar Joshi, 86. Then: A key BJP leader. Now: retired.
Joshi, who succeeded Advani as the president of the BJP was also present at the demolition site. Now part of the party’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’, Joshi, like Advani, is also credited for his role in the movement to reclaim the “birthplace” of Lord Ram. He was accused of criminal conspiracy and had, according to the chargesheet, said in Mathura on December 1, 1992 that he encouraged kar sewaks for the demolition. An MP from Kanpur, Joshi went on to become Union Human Resources Development Minister and Home Minister in the BJP government led by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“It's a historic decision by the court. This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for the 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,” Joshi told news agency ANI after Wednesday’s acquittal.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, 72. Then: CM of Bihar. Now: RJD president behind bars on graft charges.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief, who is currently in jail, had on October 23, 1992 stopped Advani’s rath yatra before arresting the BJP president in Samastipur district of Bihar. In interviews given later, Lalu Prasad said he would do anything to maintain communal harmony in the country. "We lost the government at the centre but I'm still proud of the fact that we did what was the need of the hour. LK Advani had to be arrested to halt communal polarisation at that time,” the RJD chief said in an interview to NDTV in 2017. The former Bihar CM was Union Railways Minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet (2004-2009). He was re-elected to the 15th Lok Sabha (5th term) but disqualified in 2013 after his conviction in the first fodder scam case. In March 2018, Lalu was sentenced to a 14-year jail term.
Ashok Singhal. Then: Chief of VHP. Died in 2015
One of the architects of the Ram Mandir movement, former Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok SInghal was one of the main accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. In 1984, Singhal had launched the Ram Janaki Rath Yatra demanding opening of the locks of the Babri mosque gates. He was considered close to Advani and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and was present at the demolition site on December 6, 1992. Singhal died in 2015.