A confidential report submitted to the Prime Minister on Tuesday is understood to have blamed several senior leaders of the BJP for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya 17 years ago.
The four-volume report given by Justice (retired) MS Liberhan also held then Congress prime minister PV Narasimha Rao responsible for not doing enough to stop the demolition. Rao is no more.
<b1>Opposition leader LK Advani was blamed for creating an environment that led to the demolition of the mosque through his rath yatra in 1990, said news channel CNN-IBN quoting sources. But he was not held directly responsible.
The others reportedly named in the report were the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar; VHP’s Ashok Singhal and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh.
Hindu activists demolished the 16th century Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 as Advani and senior BJP leaders looked on from a distance. Many of these leaders are being tried in UP courts for alleged complicity.
Over 2,000 people died in the communal riots that followed.
The Liberhan commission was appointed within 10 days with a brief to go into the sequence of events leading up to the demolition. It was given six months to give a report, but took 17 years.
“I am independent today. There are various things in the report. It is now for the country to commend or condemn it,” said Liberhan after giving his report, for which he examined 100 witnesses during 399 hearings.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasami said the report would be tabled in the budget session along with an Action taken Report.
The Babri Masjid Action Committee said it wants the government to table the report at the earliest.
A political storm is already brewing, even before a full disclosure of the commission’s findings. While the Congress welcomed the report and promised action, the BJP was defensive.
“Seventeen years is a long time,” said BJP president Rajnath Singh, adding, “A lot of water has flown in the Ganga since then.”
Uma Bharti, no longer with the BJP, said in Bhopal: “Like a good commander, I am ready to own responsibility for the demolition and I have no problem even if I’m hanged on the issue.”
The Congress was aggressive. “Excessive protests by the BJP in advance reflects a guilty mind,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.
The Left and the BSP demanded that the report be tabled in the budget session of parliament, beginning Thursday.