M A I N   N E W S

Babri Demolition
Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi indicted
Liberhan panel also blames Uma, Kalyan, Thackeray; spares Rao
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and ex-UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh are among the 68 persons severely indicted by Justice M S Liberhan Commission for their role in the Babri Masjid demolition 17 years ago, which led the country to a “brink of communal discord.”

The commission, surprisingly, is soft on Congressman and the then Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao for his perceived ‘inaction’ in deploying Central forces or imposing President’s Rule in then BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh to protect the 16th century structure, purported to have been built during the reign of Mughal emperor Babar. The commission refers to it as the Ram Janam Bhoomi--Babri Masjid structure (RJBM) and has clarified that its role was not to study if the structure was a mosque or a temple or even its history.

In his 1,029-page report, Justice Liberhan, a former Chief Justice of Madras High Court, indicts the perpetuators for having reduced “…. the oldest civilisation to stark intolerance and barbarianism, all for petty political gains.”

Coming down heavily on the troika of Advani, Vajpayee and Joshi, Justice Liberhan calls them “pseudo-moderates" and refers to them as “icons” of the movement. “It cannot be assumed even for a moment that LK Advani, AB Vajpayee and MM Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar”, says the commission in its findings, while adding that it was “….unable to hold even these pseudo-moderates innocent of any wrong doings …. this commission has no hesitation in condemning there pseudo-moderates for their sins of omission", the report said

“It stands beyond doubt that the events of the day were neither spontaneous nor unplanned nor an unforeseen overflowing of the people's emotion”, the commission said.

The commission also indicts Uma Bharti, RSS ideologue K Govindacharya and Shankar Singh Vaghela --- all three, along with Kalyan Singh, are no more connected with the BJP or the RSS.

Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include, Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray, late BJP leaders Pramod Mahajan and Vijayraje Scindia. Among the bureaucrats who were named in the report were then Principal Secretary (Home) in UP Prabhat Kumar, then IG (Security) AK Saran and then SSP of Faizabad DB Roy.

Castigating Kalyan Singh for having betrayed the rule of law, the commission says, “Kalyan Singh entered into a ‘joint common enterprise’ for the purpose of demolition of the disputed structure”.

This was to construct or any other substantive act to show to the karsevaks that construction of temple had started by the government. “ …..This was essential for use in elections in the future”.

The police and the administration were openly supporting the RSS agenda. The commission goes on to add “ ….there was active and willing collusion between the state administration and the political executive… did not take even token steps to stop the demolition or control the mob”.

The commission said, “The leaders saw the Ayodhya issue as their road to success and sped down this highway mindless of the casualties they scattered about”, said the commission. “The BJP was and remains an appendage of the RSS which had the purpose of only providing an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a facade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar,” the report noted.

The commission also makes remarks about others: “The intransigent stance of the UP High Court, the obdurate attitude of the Governor (He had warned the Central government against imposition of President’s Rule in the state), the irresponsibility of the Supreme Court observer (A lawyer of the UP High court who was not even present when the masjid was demolished by karsevaks) and the short sightedness of the apex court, itself are fascinating complex stories”.

On the Central government’s role, Justice Liberhan hints that the Centre could have issued direction under article 257 of the Constitution that allows deployment of Central forces in any state to control the law and order situation. The commission has divided the leaders, bureaucrats and the organisations into three groups with the first representing those who bear the “primary and the greatest” responsibility. The commission said the second group consists of those who bear physical, ideological and intellectual responsibility, while the third one represented those who bear tertiary responsibility for the situation.




Govt silent on action against perpetrators
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
Silent on punitive action against those indicted for the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, government’s Action Taken Report (ATR) on the much-delayed Liberhan Commission findings agrees to enact the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill to punish those who misuse religion for politics, and set up special tribunals to prosecute related offences.

In the name of action against perpetrators of the demolition, all the ATR promises is expediting the hearing of cases registered 17 years ago. These include the case at Lucknow special court against lakhs of unknown karsewaks; case against eight accused (politicians also named by Liberhan) in Rae Bareli special court and 47 other cases in the Lucknow special court.

Agreeing, however, with Justice MS.Liberhan (Retd), who, in his report, tabled in the Parliament today by Home Minister P. Chidambaram (only two copies were tabled, with none available even to parliamentary party leaders), advises complete de-merger of religion from politics. The government said it would ask the Election Commission if the existing electoral laws needed to be amended to achieve the said goal.

Liberhan, while blaming the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid issue to the religion-politics tangle, sought that governments formed on the basis of religion be debarred and incorporation of religions agenda in election manifestos be made an electoral offence so their perpetrators can be disqualified. The government agreed today to “further examine” these issues, ask the Law Commission to study the desirability of a criminal justice commission to monitor the performance of law enforcers in sensitive cases, revamp the recruitment to civil services to test aptitudes rather than academic skills alone, and reform the police forces under the National Police Mission.

All these recommendations form part of the Justice Liberhan report, which severely indicts the government for lack of modernized forces, noting: “Analysis of the events of December 6, 1992 show that failure to take law enforcement agencies into the 21st century has contributed and continues to contribute to a state of lawlessness. The Indian Police Service replaced the Imperial Police Services half a century ago; attitude must also change.”

The ATR, however, fails to explain this lapse and is non-condescending to Liberhan’s major recommendation of a statutory national commission of cultural experts to determine the historical legacy of monuments, like those in question.

“Disputes about the provenance of temples have survived, and like in the case of Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri masjid issue, fomented unnecessary trouble. The question whether the structure was a temple or a mosque can only be answered by experts, not politicians or jurists. Any attempt to hijack the issue can only result in ….December 6, 1992,” the report states, justifying the need for a commission to dwell on the provenance of the disputed site.

The government plainly rejected this proposal saying the ASI could handle the job. It also declined Liberhan’s idea to confer statutory status on the National Integration Council, though it accepted in part his recommendation that political leaders and holders of public offices should not simultaneously hold positions in religions organisations.

Interestingly, the word “accepted” features thrice in the ATR — against recommendations on exemplary punishment for use of religion in politics, four regional tribunals to dispose of related cases and investigative squads to monitor communal issues. For all these recommendations, the government has one answer — the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill.Through the rest of the ATR, the government largely remains non-committal —- out of the 66 observations by Liberhan, it “notes” about 11; agrees to about 25; has answers to all the rest. Whether it has the right answers will be clear when the Lok Sabha debates the report on December 1.



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