On 19th April, the Supreme Court announced that the case of Criminal Conspiracy for the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992, against BJP leaders Lal Kishan Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and 11 others, was to be revived. It transferred the trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow, ordered daily hearings, and gave a time limit of two years for completion of the trial.
Delivering the verdict, the two-judge bench said, “In the present case, crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago.The accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the state government.”
The demolition of Babri Masjid was preceded and followed by deliberate arousing of passions and whipping up of communal hysteria and revenge killing of Hindus and Muslims. Both the destruction of the monument and the widespread communal violence took place under the oversight of the two principal parties in parliament, with the Congress in charge of the central government and the Bharatiya Janata Party in charge in UP.
Two separate cases relating to the demolition of this historic monument were filed subsequently by the central government — one against the kar sevaks or devotees of Lord Ram who were accused of having carried out the actual demolition, and another a conspiracy case against a list of BJP leaders. The former case was being conducted in Lucknow while the conspiracy case was being tried in Rai Bareli.
All those accused in the conspiracy case were discharged by the Rai Bareli Court in May 2001. Later on, the Allahabad High Court issued an order defending this decision of the Rai Bareli Court. In 2010, the CBI filed an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging this decision. Seven years later, the Supreme Court has suddenly decided that this case must be revived and actively pursued over the next 24 months.
The conspiracy to destroy Babri Masjid was hatched not just by a few individuals at the head of BJP. It was hatched by the most powerful capitalist interests, Indian and global. They wanted to create communal conflict and chaos in the country so as to push through their anti-popular program of liberalization and privatization. That is why they set in motion their principal political parties and other organizations to carry out the demolition of Babri Masjid. The ruling class and the entire state machinery is responsible for the criminal acts of destroying a 15th century monument and of organizing communal violence. Those guilty include the government headed by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao at the Center and the UP government headed by Kalyan Singh. The guilty include those in charge of protecting historical monuments as well as protecting people’s lives, such as the chiefs of police and paramilitary forces and the ministerial and bureaucratic heads of the central and state home departments.
On the face of it, it appears that the Supreme Court is responding to the longstanding demand that those guilty of organizing the demolition must be punished. However, there is probably a sinister hidden agenda. Historical evidence shows that whenever the Ayodhya dispute has been revived by any arm of the Indian State, be it by a government or by a court, it has not resulted in any resolution. On the contrary, it has served to further exacerbate communal division and conflict. The reference to 24 months means that this issue is going to remain on the agenda all the way until the next Lok Sabha election in 2019.