That LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Kalyan Singh et al would be acquitted from the charge of plotting to demolish the Babri Masjid or structure on 6 December 1992 was always a legally foregone conclusion. Much as the collective psyche of our society demands that big heads roll in the conclusion of every case, the facts, supported by evidence and eyewitness accounts, may not often bear it out. The Babri case was no different. The charges against the ‘biggies’ had turned infructuous the day last year the Supreme Court had handed the title of the previously disputed plot in Ayodhya to Hindus. Thereafter, it implied that the special CBI court meant to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused was deliberating upon whether one has the right to fight for a property, the ownership of which already rests with the fighter! If the apex court said the demolition was an “egregious violation of the rule of law”, it never said who exactly turned the mosque built by Mir Baqi, a general of Mughal invader Babar, into debris. Those suggesting that a mediaeval structure could not have been razed so ‘meticulously’ without a strategy need lessons in architecture and civil engineering or at least a study of the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City, which did not, on 11 September 2001, need hits on every floor to cave into a heap of nothing but rubble. The presumption of guilt on the basis of received ‘evidence’ — copies rather than original newspaper reports, photographs, video recordings in VHS cassettes not certified by any authorised forensic laboratory, etc — lay exposed too. While the court observed that more than a hundred thousand karsevaks entered the plot in Ayodhya that day with crowbars, spades, hoes, ropes and other implements, the prosecution could not explain why Hindu leaders would have wanted to send any harm to the idol of Ram Lalla inside the structure. The CBI could not produce recordings of the speeches that Advani & Co had allegedly made to ‘provoke’ the crowd, Worse, these leaders were charged in an afterthought in a second FIR. In the exact words of the Lucknow CBI court Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav, the ‘evidence’ the prosecution presented was “hearsay”.
If the onus of CBI’s failure in the Babri case must be on the state — in other words, the government that is run by the BJP-led NDA — the INC and other pretentiously secular parties crying foul now must explain why they could not pin down the accused in the period 1992-98 and 2004-14. The INC-supported regimes of HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral and INC-led UPA, with ‘secular’ parties SP and BSP governing Uttar Pradesh after PV Narasimha Rao dismissed the elected governments of four states, could not even rectify the mistake of flawed notification of FIRs, which made the case run for a while on parallel tracks in Lucknow and Raebareli. The argument of purported intent of the karsevaks to assemble on a particular day does not hold either as they had been trying to march to the then disputed site since the reign of Mulayam Singh Yadav who, in November 1990, ordered Uttar Pradesh Police to fire at them, which snuffed the lives out of 16 devotees of Lord Rama. The Kalyan Singh government that followed could obviously not have repeated the inhuman, barbaric act. It can never be concluded incontrovertibly that the rank and file of the BJP led by Advani, who called it the “saddest day” of his life, would have wanted the structure demolished as, in politics, keeping an eyesore intact would pay higher political dividends. It may be recalled that the next state assembly election or Lok Sabha poll was too far away to let the frenzy dissipate by December 1992. Whereas bandying about the Manmohan Singh Liberhan Commission report on Ayodhya does not behove those who refuse to accept the GT Nanavati-AH Mehta Commission report on Gujarat riots of 2002, an investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act is not legally binding anyway.
The Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which the left finds revanchist, had to happen; that the VHP initiated it and the BJP took it forward are incidental. The demolition of thousands of temples and other centres of Hindu education and culture over centuries of Muslim rule had to meet with poetic justice. Those who say history ought not to be remade overlook the fact that the self-esteem of the most ancient community faced constant attacks in that period of history and the Hindus saw no redemption even with the advent of Indian governments since August 1947. The hideous Babri structure that came up defying even the Islamic tenet of not building mosques on others’ land, and which did not even display the marvels of central Asian architecture, turned into the object upon which venting their frustration came naturally to the section of Hindus that did not grow up on the false narrative of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb set by commissioned writers of school textbooks. From mediaeval to modern epoch, the rulers along the banks of the Yamuna tributary had taken the tolerance of the Ganga for granted for far too long. Babri had to go.