Babri verdict: Demolition not conspiracy, but how UP BJP govt failed to keep its promise made to SC

The CBI court has acquitted all the accused in the case, including the likes of LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti. But what happened between 1990 and 1992?

 |  4-minute read |   30-09-2020
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A special CBI court has said the Babri demolition was not pre-planned, ruling out the conspiracy theories in the December 1992 incident. The special CBI court has acquitted all the accused in the case, including the likes of LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti.

Here’s a rundown to build up for December 6, 1992.

It was a Sunday – December 6, 1992. The demolition began at about 12.20 pm. By five minutes to 2 pm, the three domes of Babri Masjid, built in 1558, had been brought down.

A Times Of India headline that morning read ‘2.25 lakh VHP volunteers are poised to perform prayers right next to the Babri Masjid’. The VHP spokesman quoted in the story said, “volunteers would not violate the court orders”. The court orders said the existing should not be harmed. A similar promise was made by the Kalyan Singh-led BJP government to Supreme Court.

So how did the demolition happen?

1_690x388-4_093020104441.jpg(L-R) BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani and Vijayaraje Scindia at the December 6, 1992 rally in Ayodhya. (Photo: Praveen Jain/IndiaToday)

On October 30 in 1990, Mulayam Singh Yadav, as UP Chief Minister, ordered the state police to open fire at kar sevaks who had gathered in Ayodhya. The gathering was due to a call given by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP.

The firing led to widespread anger. Mulayam lost in the election held in 1991. This paved the way for the BJP to form its first ever government in UP with Kalyan Singh at the helm.

On multiple occasions, Singh vowed to protect the masjid.

One of the first decisions Kalyan Singh’s government took was to acquire 2.77 acres of land around the Babri Masjid almost immediately after coming to power. Reports suggest by October 1991, existing structures on the acquired land began to be demolished. The masjid wasn’t touched.

The demolition exercise halted after the Supreme Court intervened into the matter. In November that year, Singh gave an assurance to the National Integration Council, an all-party formation, that “the entire responsibility for the protection of the disputed structure is ours, we will be vigilant...”

It wasn’t just the demolitions on the acquired land that had caused worry. In January 1992, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report issued a warning. The IB told the PV Narasimha Rao government: “notwithstanding the present impasse... the BJP government in UP is considering how best to circumvent those hurdles that are standing in the way of the construction of the temple.”

Local journalists were reporting that construction work had resumed in the outer compound of the premises.

The Allahabad High Court asked the UP government to stop the work. The work reportedly continued till the Supreme Court once again intervened. On the site on July 23, 1992, the apex court ordered suspension of all ongoing work.

About three months later, the VHP announced kar seva would begin right next to the disputed site on December 6. The land where the kar seva was to happen was the 2.77 acres overtaken by the UP government.

Following VHP’s announcement, kar sevaks began pouring into Ayodhya from across the country.

The Rao government had its hands tied. The use of Article 356 to dismiss elected governments had earned the Congress a lot of flak. Rao did not want to invoke the constitutional provision to dismiss the Kalyan Singh government.

Also, the use of central forces in Punjab to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple prevented Rao sending in the forces to protect the site in Ayodhya.

As a midway, the Rao government moved a petition that sought ownership of the mosque to be transferred to the Centre. This would have allowed the Centre to protect the site without having to dismiss the UP government.

Madhav Godbole, who was the Union Home Secretary at that time, was asked to draw an emergency plan to take over the mosque. Godbole later resigned and wrote a memoir. His memoir Unfinished Innings came down heavily on Rao and the other decision-makers for failing to protect the mosque.

The Supreme Court at this point was hearing a series of appeals in the matter. In all responses that were sought of the UP government, it swore to protect the mosque.

The court allowed the Kalyan Singh government to have control.

On December 6, the promises fell apart.

Later, Kalyan Singh said, “As the UP Chief Minister, I and my government ensured adequate three-tier security of the disputed structure in Ayodhya.”

The three-tier security was clearly not enough. In a 'spontaneous act' which was 'not pre-planned', the Babri Masjid came down on December 6, 1992.

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Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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