Lucknow: A Lucknow CBI court today issued a controlling order in Ayodhya in the Babri Masjid demolition case. In Uttar Pradesh, heavy security has been put in place. Vehicle inspection has also been strengthened. The court ruled in favor of the mosque demolition and conspiracy cases. There are 32 accused in the case, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Uma Bharti. All the accused in the case, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Kalyan Singh, have been asked to appear before the court. The verdict in the mosque demolition case comes after 28 years.
Sadhvi Ritambhara, Sakshi Maharaj, Vinay Katiyar, and Champat Rai Bansal have also reached court. If convicted, saffron veterans Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Katiyar, Ritambhara, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Bansal, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Dharmadas, and Dr. Satish Pradhan would face maximum imprisonment up to five years. A high alert has been sounded in Uttar Pradesh. While policemen in civil clothes will be on guard in Ayodhya, 2,000 cops will be deployed at the building that houses the “Ayodhya Prakaran Court” in the Old High Court building in Lucknow’s Kaiserbagh. A report stated that the Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel have been stationed in 25 sensitive districts.
The date was fixed on the direction of the Supreme Court that had asked for the judgment to be announced by September 30. The Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 by “kar sevaks” who claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple. The land dispute over the site was settled last year by the Supreme Court, which allowed the construction of a Ram temple. The court also directed that an alternative site should be allotted in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque. The ground-breaking ceremony for the temple took place on August 5 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi participating in a Bhoomi puja.
A day ahead of the verdict, BJP leader Uma Bharti said in a letter to party president JP Nadda that she would prefer to be “hanged” rather than seek bail. Bharti is currently admitted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh after testing positive for Covid-19. Her condition is said to be stable. While Bharti will not be present in court for the hearing, it is not yet clear whether she would appear via video conferencing.
The conspiracy charge is in addition to the current charges against them for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion for which they are already facing trial. The other charges against them include indulging in “deliberate and malicious” acts intended to outrage religious feelings, uttering statements leading to public mischief, rioting, and unlawful assembly. The CBI argued that the accused conspired and instigated ‘kar sevaks’ to demolish the 16th-century mosque. But the accused pleaded innocence maintaining that there is no evidence to prove their guilt and claimed they were implicated by the then Congress government at the Centre as a political vendetta.
Unlike the title dispute case in the matter that saw final judgment being delivered by the Supreme Court in November 2019, the demolition case still can have a long way to go. After almost three decades it’s the first court in our legal system that is set to give the verdict. Deepening upon the ruling, parties concerned will have a right to challenge the verdict in the higher courts of our country. Despite the delay, it has been an exhausting trial in which more than 350 witnesses recorded their statements and CBI filed a consolidated charge sheet in 49 related cases. The case that initially had 49 accused, now has only 32 of them alive.