Babri demolition culprits still scot-free
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Babri demolition culprits still scot-free

Liberhan panel is in the final stretch of its probe, while 8 BJP leaders, including Advani, face trial in a CBI court.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2005 11:41 IST

Thirteen years after the demolition of the Babri mosque in the Uttar Pradesh temple town of Ayodhya that set off a cataclysmic chain of events in the country, the perpetrators continue to roam free.

An inquiry commission headed by Justice MS Liberhan is in the final stretch of its probe, while eight leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, including its President LK Advani, face trial in a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court.

One of the country's longest running inquiry commissions, which has cost the government Rs 63.60 million, it was set up to probe the sequence of events leading to the razing of the Babri mosque by Hindu zealots on December 6, 1992 and is in its fifth extension till December 31.

"We are waiting for the government counsel to finish off his arguments. I hope this is the last. Then it will take another three months to give the final touches to the report," sources close to Liberhan said.

After hearing scores of politicians and others from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and recording their statements, the commission's report could be a veritable bombshell.

Appointed by former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao on December 16, 1992 to ward off criticism against his government for having failed to protect the mosque, the commission in August finished hearing its last witness Kalyan Singh, who was Uttar Pradesh chief minister at the time of the demolition and was dismissed soon after.

According to Commission sources, several BJP leaders "could come under the scanner" when Liberhan submits his report.

"The real challenge before the commission is not only to unravel why and how the demolition happened, but to identify the larger forces and actors responsible for it. History would judge the commission severely if it failed to do so," said a commission official.

Procedural delays, non-cooperation from key witnesses and Liberhans's constant transfers during the early days of the commission's functioning all contributed to the inordinately long time taken to write its report.

Even the CBI's case in a special court in Rae Bareli against Advani, former human resource development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti and five others has seen tortuous twists and turns.

After Advani was discharged from the case in May 2003, matters returned to square one with the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court ruling in July that the special court had erred in doing so.

The court also rejected an appeal by seven other BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Ashok Singhal, that the charges against them be dropped.

The charges relate to spreading communal frenzy, rioting/committing a crime and creating ill will.

On July 28, charges were finally framed against Advani and the seven others but it is anybody's guess when the case will reach its logical conclusion, considering how many years it has taken to reach even the preliminary stage.

First Published: Dec 06, 2005 11:15 IST