A special CBI court framed charges of criminal conspiracy against BJP stalwarts LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, senior BJP leader Uma Bharti and eight others under section 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code today.
The Supreme Court, on 19 April, had called the destruction of the mosque a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution” while allowing the CBI’s plea seeking restoration of the criminal conspiracy charges. On 6 December, 1992, the disputed structure in Ayodhya was pulled down by kar sevaks.
It could be noted that the conspiracy charges against Advani and others were dropped by the special CBI Court in 2001, which sought to distinguish between the main demolition case and the case related to hate speeches. The decision was endorsed by the Allahabad High Court in 2010.
“I was present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, which is no secret. Crores of BJP workers, lakhs of officials and thousands of political leaders participated. It was an open movement like the movement against the Emergency. I don’t see any conspiracy,” Union Minister Uma Bharti told reporters.
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar reiterated that there was no conspiracy. “Whatever happened that day took place in front of lakhs of people. Nothing took place in a closed room. When something happened in front of lakhs of people, how come only 10-20 people are being charged”
Earlier in the day, the court granted bail to Advani and Joshi. Apart from Advani and Joshi, senior BJP leaders Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, senior VHP leader Vishnu Hari Dalmia and well-known social worker and one-time Hindutva Sadhvi Ritambara were granted bail. They all appeared before the court in connection with the framing of charges, in the 25-year-old case, in the light of a Supreme Court order.
The Apex Court had transferred the case against Advani, Joshi and Bharti among others from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.
Historically, the razing of the Ram temple — built in the honour of Lord Ram on Ramkot hill, which happens to be the Janmasthan (birthplace) of the revered Hindu deity — dates back to 1528. Mir Baqi, a general in the army of invader Babar demolished the temple on his order and erected a “mosque” on its ruins. The “mosque” came to be known as “Babri Masjid”. The so-called mosque was originally called Masjid-e-Janmasthan, thus establishing the fact that it was built over the birth place of Lord Ram.