No one demolished Babri Masjid !

Nearly 28 years after the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished, a special CBI court on Wednesday acquitted all 32 accused in Babri Masjid demolition case, stating that there was no conclusive proof against the accused. The 32 accused include former deputy PM LK Advani and Union Ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.
The court said that the demolition of the centuries-old mosque was not pre-planned, adding that anti-social elements destroyed the structure despite accused leaders appealing for calm. The court also observed that late VHP leader Ashok Singhal wanted to save the structure because Ram idols were inside.
The CBI court verdict raises pertinent questions about the nature and quality of the probe. After years of investigation, CBI presented around 350 witnesses and 600 pieces of documents — but the verdict found that the tapes were tampered with and the documents could not be relied on. This is a further indictment of India’s creaky criminal justice system. The verdict points to anti-social elements who demolished the mosque, but there is no clarity on who they were and whether the probe agencies have any plan to identify and punish them. The conclusions also appear to contradict the findings of the 1992 Liberhan commission that blamed senior political leaders for the event.
Babri Masjid was built in 1528 by Mir Baqi, the commander of Mughal emperor Babur. The structure was demolished in December 1992 by 'kar sevaks' who claimed that the mosque was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple. The VHP along with other elements of the Sangh Parivar spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya at the site of the mosque.
Now, an impressive Ram temple is being constructed in Ayodhya and a mosque is also coming up at an alternative site. But doubts about the criminal investigation, the lack of criminal and political accountability for those who brought the structure down and the precedent set are worrying. The case may be closed for now, but it does not signal closure in this painful chapter of India’s history.


- Prabhakar Purandare

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