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BJP UP unit says Babri mosque ruling ‘doesn’t make us convicts’, Centre cautious

Top BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case as the SC allowed the CBI plea to restore the charge against them.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2017 19:25 IST
New Delhi
Supreme Court,Babri Masjid,Murli Manohar Joshi
In this file photo, BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti wave at the crowd at a public meeting after appearing in a special court in connection with the demolition of Ayodhya's Babri Masjid, in Raebareli, July 28, 2005. (PTI)

The Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said on Wednesday it will study in detail the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing the trial of its top leaders for criminal conspiracy in Babri Masjid demolition before commenting on the case.

Its senior leader and law minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, asserted that his party highly respects veteran leaders such as LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who will be tried following the apex court’s decision.

Advani, Joshi and Union minister Uma Bharti are accused of inciting Hindu zealots to pull down the 16th century Babri mosque in 1992, igniting one of India’s most explosive religious disputes in which thousands died.

The court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the leaders and ‘karsevaks’, and ordered day-to-day trial with the proceedings to be completed in two years.

The apex court, however, noted that Rajasthan governor Kalyan singh enjoys constitutional immunity and can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office. Singh was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1992.

The court said separate trials being conducted in trial courts at Raebareli and Lucknow will be clubbed and conducted in the Uttar Pradesh capital of Lucknow.

Putting up a brave face, the Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP said it has full faith in the judiciary after the apex court allowed the CBI plea seeking trial of Advani, Joshi and Bharti, among others.

“We will go to the trial court. This does not make us convicts,” state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said.

“We will present evidence before the trial court, where it will be examined and cross-examined,” he said.

Many Hindus believe the Babri mosque was only built after the destruction of a temple that marks the birthplace of their god Ram.

Some in the BJP, which recently won elections in Uttar Pradesh, want to build a temple to Ram on the ruins of the razed mosque -- an idea that horrifies the state’s significant Muslim minority.

“During the Mughal rule, a religious structure was built demolishing the feelings of the Hindus. It was subsequently demolished by the Hindus. And we have proved ourselves in the court of people,” Tripathi said.

“The BJP is committed to the construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya within the framework of the Constitution,” he said.

Lalu’s salvo

RJD chief Lalu Prasad said senior BJP leader Advani’s last dream to become President of India was not possible any more after the Supreme Court order.

“Advani is now out of race for the President’s post. He was projected as a strong candidate for the top constitutional post, but it is not possible anymore,” Lalu said.

Lalu attacked the BJP, saying that Advani was made a “scapegoat” (bali ka bakra) in the Babri case.

Lalu said the CBI was under the “control” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who “used it to sideline and oust Advani from the race for the President” in a “well-planned political strategy”.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the NCP welcomed the revival of conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders.

“The law of the land has prevailed. We hope that there will be speedy trial and all the guilty will be punished and face the consequences,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said.

NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said: “We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court. In the wake of it, Uma Bharti must be sacked from the (Union) ministry.”

First Published: Apr 19, 2017 19:08 IST