Special Reports

Liberhanspill - The Morning After

By K P Prakasam

At last, after 17 years and 47 extensions and a cost of 8 crore rupees, Justice Liberhan Commission’s report on the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by karsevaks on December 6, 1992 was submitted to the Home Ministry on 30th June, 2009. Home Minister P. Chidambaram sat over the 1029-page report until it was leaked to the press on 23rd November.

The leak was a strategic move to break the opposition unity built on the issues of farmers’ demands and the spiralling price rise of consumer items - a diversionary tactic.

The morning after the Liberhan spill, the report was right on the table of the Parliament. The leak provided an explosive charm to the otherwise dud report and the media jumped into the fray, re-playing the Babri tune. The leak and the injustice of the leak obscured the truth, put a soft veil over the remorseless villains and whitewashed the former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao who failed to prevent the vandalism and cataclysmic events of December 6, 1992. His responsibility for the wanton destruction is denied, remorse is erased.

Home Minister Chidambaram also tabled on November 24 a 13-page action taken report, saying that the government accepted the recommendations of Liberhan and was contemplating a bill to prevent and control  communal riots and set up special courts to deal with them. The action taken report is clearly an indictment of 68 persons responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and Chidambaram promised to refer to the Election Commission that attempts to misuse religious sentiments should result in disqualification of candidates. The government will further examine the recommendation that a government formed with the promise of religion or which has religious issues on its political agenda in its election manifesto should be barred. He said that the government rejected the suggestion in the report to set up a statutory national commission on historical monuments, claiming that it would be enough to strengthen the functions of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Liberhanspeak: Liberhan places individual culpability for the demolition on 68 people, the bulk of whom are drawn from the Sangh Parivar - RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and the BJP. While the former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee has been indicted, the real villain of the piece, Narasimha Rao, has been exonerated.

The report squarely puts the blame on top BJP leaders LK Advani and AB Vajpayee for the demolition of Babri Masjid. It calls Vajpayee, who is number seven in the list of 68 accused, a “pseudo-moderate,” along with Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, held responsible “for pushing the country to the brink of communal discord.” They were in full knowledge of RSS designs as it “cannot be assumed even for a moment that Advani, Vajpayee or Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar”, Liberhan stated.

The Liberhan Commission observed that December 6, 1992 saw the state of Uttar Pradesh unwilling to uphold the majesty of law and thus becoming a willing ally and co-conspirator in the common joint enterprise to announce the revival of a rabid breed of hardcore Hindutva by demolishing the structure which they had denounced as a symbol of Islam. The karsevaks who congregated at Ayodhya were aware that they were at zero risk from the state agencies. It observed that even the forces sent by the central government were taken away from the scene and deployed at far away places. “The role of the Supreme Court observer in not alerting the court to the clearly unfolding disaster, points to duplicity, something that raises concern about the impartiality and objectivity of the officer who was hand-picked by the High Court of Uttar Pradesh.”

The Report further observed that the UP government provided all amenities to the karsevaks like food, stay, sanitation and medical facilities. It revealed that it was at a meeting held at the RSS headquarters in Delhi in November 1992 where the logistics for operation demolition were worked out. LK Advani from Kashi and Murli Manohar Joshi from Mathura restarted the Rath Yatra for mobilization of the karsevaks to congregate at Ayodhya on December 6. Vinay Katiyar, Champak Rai, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Mahant Avaidyanath and DB Roy began secretly plotting for demolition right from the beginning. The methodology adopted was sudden attack on the structure, providing with technical logistics like putting of ropes in the holes and pulling the walls under the dome.

What happened between the evening of December 6 and morning of December 9 when the administration of the city was in the hands of the Governor? Within the intervening 60 hours it would have been impossible to flatten the Masjid walls without the use of heavy machinery (of the CPWD). Not even rubble was in sight. The all-seeing Liberhan closed his eyes. The learned judge swallowed this part of the story hook, line and sinker in order to bail out the Congress and its prime minister.


One commendable aspect of the Liberhan report is the recommendation for the separation of religion from politics. Besides, the Commission observed that the police and bureaucracy were facing a “crisis of confidence” and suggested urgent measures to break the “nexus” between politicians and bureaucrats and create a responsive police force and bureaucracy.

The report did not reveal anything more than what was already known. Every child in India those days knew who were behind the barbaric act of demolishing the historical structure.  It needed not a legal luminary to waste 17 years and eight crores of Indian tax payers’ money just to divine that the Hindu fundamentalist corporation led by BJP leader LK Advani and former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee were the moving spirits behind the heinous act, while another Brahmin fundamentalist from the South, PV Narasimha Rao, in his capacity as Prime Minister of India, facilitated the demolition by his blatant inaction. Liberhan’s findings against the protagonists of Ayodhya demolition are in the nature of obiter dicta and are not actionable. In any case, criminal cases are pending.

At best, the report pointed out the pitfalls of communal politics, but that was an obvious fact and did not need  a commission of enquiry to unearth it. The criminal inaction of the Congress government at the Centre and the disastrous RSS ideology were also known. The most obnoxious part of the Report is that it absolves the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao who was kept informed of minute-to-minute developments at Ayodhya,  and who could have prevented the unfortunate events had he the will and determination to do it. But Liberhan left him off the hook with a mild admonition that he was “day-dreaming” while karasevaks did the devil dance at Ayodhya and demolished the mosque.

The Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the Liberhan report “showed the real character and thinking of the BJP, describing its politics as “brutish and nasty.” The BJP, in turn, rallied behind the former Prime Minister Vajpayee who was indicted in the report. RSS spokesman Ram Madhav claimed  the happening at Ayodhya on December 6 was the result of pentup frustration and anger of lakhs and lakhs of people. CPM leader Sitaram Yachuri said that the main issue was that of giving exemplary punishment to those found guilty of the “most heinous assault on our secular democratic polity.”

Speak Doublespeak: Why did Liberhan bail out the real culprit of the tragic-comedy cunningly scripted and viciously executed by the Brahminist ruling clique with the help of their brethren in the opposition?  To answer this, one has to glimpse into events of the fateful day of 6 December. Let us reconstruct the destruct process. In the morning a number of karsevaks climbed on top of the main dome of the mosque (in all there were three domes) and began to tamper it. Acharya Dharmendra was continuously giving through mike instructions to those on top of the dome. The press photographers who tried to photograph were roughed up and driven out and their cameras snatched or smashed. Soon, the karsevaks were digging into the bottom edges of the dome with the help of crow bars. This went on all around the dome and, by about 2.30 afternoon, the dome on the extreme right collapsed. One more fell in another hour and the third dome fell around 4.30 evening.

But the entire Babri Masjid structure with three-feet thick walls was intact, standing tall in all its dome-less splendor. In the evening, the All India Radio in its news bulletin, announced the dismissal of all the four BJP state governments including that of UP’s Kalyan Singh, and the imposition of curfew at Ayodhya. Later, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao came over television and expressed deep sorrow over what had happened at Ayodhya, which he condemned, and promised to rebuild what was demolished.

Having accomplished their mission and destroyed the domes of the Masjid, the karsevaks dispersed in a triumphant mood when curfew was imposed in the city on the evening of December 6 itself. After the maddening crowd had frittered away following promulgation of Section 144, there were people on the spot sufficient enough to complete the rest of the job left unfinished by the saffron goons. Who were they? Certainly not all karsevaks. Were they CRP men in disguise? The usually expatiating Liberhan maintains a stoic silence at this point.

Then there was a news blackout on the next day and the day after the next. What we see on December 9 in newspapers was the picture of Ram Lalla in a make-shift temple built on the flattened structure and guarded by paramilitary jawans. The entire structure was missing. Who destroyed the ten walls that supported the domes? The walls were three feet thick and no karsevak could destroy even a fraction of it. Moreover, most of them had left when curfew was promulgated. And there were only para-military forces left on the scene.

What happened between the evening of December 6 and morning of December 9 when the administration of the city was in the hands of the Governor? Within the intervening 60 hours it would have been impossible to flatten the Masjid walls without the use of heavy machinery (of the CPWD). Not even rubble was in sight. The all-seeing Liberhan closed his eyes. The learned judge swallowed this part of the story hook, line and sinker in order to bail out the Congress and its prime minister.

Narasimha Rao might have thought that so long as the edifice of the Masjid structure remained, the BJP will have a handle to agitate and win Hindu votes. Hence the conjecture is (because Liberhan is silent on this point) that Rao might have ordered to deploy CRP men to flatten the structure. Once the Masjid structure was gone and Ram Lalla idol installed at the so-called birthplace of Ram, the BJP will have no cause for agitation. That was a clever stratagem, reminiscent of those of his ancient predecessor, Vishnu Gupta, minister of the Maurya King Chandra Gupta, whose Italian counterpart is Machiavelli. The minister-scholar is also known as Kautilya (the wicked), famous for his treatise Arthashastra which deals with statecraft and almost everything under the Sun. (Incidentally, he was the man who propounded the theory that women do not deserve freedom-Na sthree swatantryam arhate.)

Grape-Vinespeak: The grapevine has it that Rao was at that time re-reading the opening chapter of the Bhagwat Geeta (the Song Celestial), the Arjuna Vishada Yoga (Arjuna’s despondence) wherein armies of the Pandavas and the Kauravas who came to Kurukshetra to fight out the inheritance dispute are described. A despondent Arjuna refuses to fight and kill his kith and kin even if it meant attainment of salvation, despite coercion and even threat from his charioteer and master-strategist Lord Krishna, who propounded the dangerous theory: End-justifies-the-Means.

To Rao’s philosophical disposition, one can find only one parallel in world history, that of the Roman Emperor Nero who is said to have been fiddling while Rome was on fire. A Sanskrit scholar and a polyglot, Rao, the Brahmin fundamentalist of the Congress breed, seemed to have had a tacit understanding with the Brahminical leadership of the RSS-BJP-Shiv Sena-combine that he will not act until the karsevaks have done their job. Narasimha Rao could not even brook the idea of spilling the blood of karsevaks, if an armed action necessitated it. So he went on a philosophical trip while the violent mob collected from all over the country by Advani and Joshi through their Rath Yatra accomplished the heinous crime as a well-armed Central and state force looked on, waiting for the orders to come from the Centre. And the orders never came. Like the despondent Arjuna, Rao could not divine of an armed action that would spill the blood of his own kith and kin, the karsevaks. Rao went a step further and allowed the fanatics to put up a temporary temple on the flattened Masjid structure. And Liberhan let off the hook the big Hindu fundamentalist fish by giving him a clean chit, with a mild admonition of “day-dreaming.” Not only that. He tried to hide the nakedness of Rao’s inaction with a fig leaf of Constitutional impropriety.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2009 on page no. 13

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