Calling them “pseudo-moderates,” the Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan Commission of Inquiry has indicted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with current Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani and former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi, among others, for the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
Citing the evidence it gathered, which includes witness statements and official records, one of the key conclusions of the Commission is said to be that the entire build-up to the demolition was meticulously planned. And there was nothing to show that these leaders were either unaware of what was going on or innocent of any wrongdoing.
The one-man Commission probed the “sequence of events leading, and all facts and circumstances relating, to the occurrences at Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex on December 6, 1992” — the day the Babri Masjid was brought down by kar sevaks.
Sources in the Union Home Ministry have confirmed to The Indian Express that the report is also severely critical of many Muslim leaders representing organizations such as the Babri Masjid Action Committee and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee.
The elite leaders of these Muslim organizations, the report is learnt to have observed, constituted a class of their own and were neither responsible to nor were they caring for the welfare of those they claimed to represent. These leaders failed the community by failing to put forth a logical, cohesive and consistent point of view on the dispute, both inside and outside the courts, the Commission is said to have stated.
The Home Ministry, which is giving final touches to the action taken report (ATR), intends to table the ATR in Parliament along with the report of the Commission during the ongoing Winter Session.
The Commission was set up 10 days after the demolition as communal riots rocked several parts of the country. After 17 years and 48 extensions, it submitted its report on June 30 this year.
It is learnt that among others indicted and found culpable — for what the Commission calls pushing the nation to the brink of communal discord — are the entire top brass of the Sangh Parivar. These include the leaderships of the RSS, VHP and Shiv Sena.
It is learnt that Justice Liberhan has not come down heavily on the then Union Government headed by P V Narasimha Rao. Its argument: as per the Constitution, the Union Government can act only after it receives the recommendation of the state Governor. In this case, the Governor didn’t do much and also didn’t seek the Centre’s intervention.
The report is learnt to have said that despite claims to the contrary, the Ayodhya campaign did not enjoy the willing and voluntary support of the common masses, particularly Hindus. In fact, Liberhan is learnt to have said that the demand for a temple never became a mass movement. The campaign only ended up silencing the voices of sanity and shaming them into joining the movement.
Liberhan is learnt to have said that despite claims by Advani and Vajpayee that they had no role in the demolition, the two leaders cannot be absolved of their responsibility for the same. When he appeared before the Commission, Advani had said he was pained by the events at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
Liberhan is said to have stated that while Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi could have been used by the Parivar as the publicly acceptable faces of the movement, they were still party to all decisions.
And that none of them had the capacity to defy the orders of the RSS without damaging their political future. In fact, the Commission calls them tools in the hands of the RSS.
However, drawing from history, particularly from the trials of Nazi soldiers, at which the plea of having acted on the orders of superiors was not accepted, the Commission is learnt to have concluded that these leaders can’t be given the benefit of doubt or absolved of culpability. Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi have also been indicted for having violated the trust of voters.
Rath yatras by Advani and Joshi, Liberhan is learnt to have concluded, were targeted at making the emotionally-charged common man join the movement.
In sharp contrast to the BJP and the Sangh Parivar stand that the demolition was a spontaneous outburst, Liberhan is said to have argued that the events resulting in the demolition were carefully planned.
The Commission is also said to have concluded that diversion of funds to Faizabad and Ayodhya just before the kar seva, mobilization of kar sevaks as well as arrangements made at the site with military-like precision, clearly proves that the plan was not just limited to symbolic kar seva, as stated by Sangh and BJP leaders.
To substantiate this argument, Liberhan is learnt to have pointed to the mode of assault on the disputed structure as well as easy availability of instruments and material. The small number of kar sevaks who actually carried out the demolition, the hidden faces of such kar sevaks, the removal of idols and cash boxes from under the domes and the eventual installation in the makeshift temple clearly show that demolition was carried out with painstaking preparation and planning, he is learnt to have said.
The report is said to suggest that the emergence of a host of leaders to lead the movement from among the ranks of the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar groups was because of the lure of wealth and power rather than ideology.
Liberhan is learnt to have written that these leaders saw the Ayodhya movement as their road to success, and they acted as executioners wielding swords provided by the ideologues.
Referring to the funds collected by leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, the Commission has reportedly said that many tens of crores of rupees collected from the people were deposited into bank accounts operated by these leaders. These funds were used to provide infrastructure and other amenities for kar sevaks in the days leading to the demolition. Babri demolition meticulously planned, says Liberhan, indicts Atal, Advani