India Enews, December 06, 2006
It has been 14 years but nemesis might still come calling on several leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and hardline Hindu organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) when Justice M.S. Liberhan, probing the demolition of the Babri mosque, completes his report.
The one-man panel, one of the country's longest running inquiry commissions which has cost the government Rs.63.60 million till date, is currently writing up his report on the sequence of events leading to the razing of the Babri mosque by Hindu mobs on Dec 6, 1992.
Sources told IANS that besides identifying those who played a role in the destruction of the 16th century mosque, the commission would also unravel why and how the demolition happened and name the larger forces and actors responsible for it.
'At this point all I can tell you is that I am writing the report and it will be given soon,' Justice Liberhan told IANS from Chandigarh.
For the hardline Hindutva forces, and the BJP in particular, the report, when it is out, could be a looming black cloud on the horizon especially if it is made available before the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections expected early next year.
Liberhan parried questions on whether any BJP leaders' roles were being scrutinised.
'I will not say anything on the matter. Wait for the report.'
Appointed by former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao two weeks after the demolition on Dec 16, 1992, to ward off criticism against his government for having failed to protect the mosque, the commission in August last year finished hearing its last witness Kalyan Singh — who was Uttar Pradesh chief minister at the time of the demolition and was dismissed soon after.
In April this year, after months of delay, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government filed its final written submission before the commission accusing the BJP, its mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena of having 'collaborated and connived' to demolish the structure at Ayodhya in a well-planned manner.
'From the records it is apparently clear that the demolition was clearly an act of conspiracy between the state government held by the then chief minister Kalyan Singh, his cabinet colleagues, various prominent leaders of BJP and Sangh Parivar including RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena…' the UPA government said.
The 246-page submission, supported by 149 pages of annexure, states that even minimum force was not used to block the free flow of kar sevaks (volunteers) towards the disputed structure.
The UPA's petition is expectedly in sharp contrast to the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) stand. Counsel Lala Ram Gupta depositions before the commission almost amounted to the assertion that the destruction of the mosque was an act of god.
He also told the commission that the disputed site in Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram and maintained the only issue was whether a temple existed there before the construction of the mosque in the Uttar Pradesh town.
In 14 years of its proceedings, the commission recorded statements of several politicians, bureaucrats and police officials including Kalyan Singh, late Narasimha Rao, former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani and his colleagues Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati as well as Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The commission had a tough time during the deposition of Bajrang Dal leader Vinay Katiyar, who used some foul language and went to the extent of saying that the report of the commission would be 'useless' and would gather dust on official shelves.
Top bureaucrats and police officials of Uttar Pradesh, the then district magistrate R.N. Srivastava and Senior Superintendent of Police D.B. Roy of Ayodhya also recorded their statements on the demolition.
– By Murali Krishnan