Babri bane still haunts nation's psyche
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Babri bane still haunts nation's psyche

Two outstanding issues, Kashmir and Ayodhya kept bursting into the limelight sporadically, but with little overall movement.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:12 IST

(Saif Shahin)

Some new episodes were added to Indian politics' favourite soap opera this year. In September, the Rae Bareilly special court – set up to speed up proceedings in the demolition case – allowed CBI to file criminal charges against six of the accused, including Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. However, much to the chagrin of the Opposition, it ruled out any criminal conspiracy charge against LK Advani.

The CBI said it was surprised, as the evidence it submitted against Advani was mostly the same as against the rest. Indeed, Advani was apparently let off on the statement of a female police officer which the CBI claimed was actually the most damning for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Union minister Joshi, who had announced a day before that he would quit if the judgement went against him, was let off the hook by Prime Minster Vajpayee who did not accept his "resignation". Joshi and the five others then appealed in the Allahabad High Court against the special court’s judgement, and the HC has since directed the CBI not to chargesheet them until their appeal is heard.

So Advani continues as the Deputy Prime Minister, Joshi continues as the HRD Minister, and Uma Bharti – who had reportedly jumped into Joshi’s lap with joy when the karsevaks began the Masjid's demolition in 1992 – took her oath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in December.

Meanwhile, the Archaeological Survey of India submitted its report to the High Court, claiming to have found evidence of an ancient temple beneath the disputed site. While saffron experts say it vindicates their stance, others have denounced the report and questioned the methodology the ASI used in its excavations as well as the manner in which it interpreted its findings. Indeed the claims of the final report are significantly different from those made in two interim reports that the ASI submitted.

Before all this, however, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi added his name to the lengthening star cast by trying for an out of court settlement with All-India Muslim Personal Law Board. His efforts ended in a lot of confusion – with the Shankaracharya himself not remaining sure of what he was proposing in the end. AIMPLB, which said it got two different letters containing two very different sets of proposals, rejected them, and the episode ended with the seer looking rather red-faced.

Not to be left behind, the VHP tried to hold a "sankalp yatra" in Ayodhya in October, which turned out to be a damp squib.

The Ayodhya dispute

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 21:09 IST