Setback for CBI after three-decade probe
The decision of a Lucknow special court to acquit all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition conspiracy case comes as a big setback for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which, for 28 years, has maintained that there was a conspiracy to demolish the structure.
People who have been following CBI’s investigation through the years say it will be interesting to see whether the agency, which has spent considerable time. money, and energy investigating the case, challenges the decision in a higher court . For now, CBI has chosen to be tightlipped. The agency spokesperson didn’t respond to the judgement or remarks it contained on agency’s investigation skills. CBI’s choice is made difficult by the fact that the current political dispensation is unlikely to be in favour of an appeal.
The people, who asked not to be named, but who ar familiar with different stages of investigation in the case said that “it was a thorough investigation”.
The agency’s case was that there was a conspiracy to destroy the disputed structure so that Ram Temple could be built at the disputed site
“When CBI took over a total of 49 cases – the main case naming ‘lakhs of unknown karsevaks’ in December 1992; 47 related to attacks on mediapersons; and another case against 8 BJP leaders for giving provocative speeches – it was a challenging task as hundreds of kar sevaks who were present in Ayodhya and Faizabad didn’t want to talk to the agency officials,” one of these people added.
WATCH| ‘Welcomed Babri verdict with Jai Shri Ram chant’: LK Advani on acquittal
CBI managed to locate some independent witnesses and then there were statements from mediapersons as well as several Muslim residents from the area, this person said.
The agency filed a chargesheet against 48 persons and charges were framed against all of them including senior BJP leader L K Advani, but in 2001, a Special Court dropped the charges against Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.
Also Read: Muslims will challenge Babri order: Jilani
CBI challenged the decision in the Allahabad high court, which gave a decision after nine years, in 2010. The Supreme Court, in 2017, asked a Lucknow court to frame conspiracy charges against BJP leaders, and that’s when a fasttrack trial started.
The agency produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court.
Over a period of time, several witnesses or accused had died. The CBI teams handling the case also kept changing and its main investigating officer, M Narayanan, who filed a chargesheet saying there was a conspiracy, retired in 2009 as joint director. HT tried to contact him on Wednesday but he didn’t respond to calls and emails.
The agency has seen a long list of acquittals in high profile cases now – including the 2G scam, the Aarushi-Hemraj murders , despite having a dedicated prosecution wing.
“Problem is not with investigations. The matters keep on lingering in courts for years,” said a second officer.
“Babri Masjid case has been pending in courts since 1993. There has to be a limit to the time courts take.”