Analysis

Babri Masjid Demolition And Liberhan Report

Justice Liberhan Commission was set up 10 days after the demolition of Babri Masjid and it took 17 long years and 48 extensions before it submitted the report on 30 June 2009. It was tabled in Parliament on 24 November two days after the Indian Express published a leaked report.

Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi controversy dominated Indian politics for about a decade and became the main political issue and it was so controversial and rooted in communal politics that it polarized Indian people along religious lines for the first time in post-Independence India and since it was raised for riding to political power, the BJP did rise to political power towards the end of nineties of the last century.

It was not so secret that the leaders of the Sangh Parivar were responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the chief architect of this movement was LK Advani who took out a Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya to win mass support of Hindus and the Rath Yatra turned into a 'blood yatra' as nearly 3000 small and not-so-small riots took place during its course. Times of India editorially described it as 'blood yatra'.

Babri Masjid demolition also resulted in bloody riots in several major cities of the country and Mumbai and Surat riots in December and January 1992-93 surpassed all previous limits in brutality, killing and raping. By any account, Babri Masjid's demolition and subsequent riots remain the shame of modern secular India and this happened to fulfill the lust of a political party for power.

According to the published extracts, the Liberhan Commission has indicted the top leadership of the BJP and surprisingly Shri Vajpayee too. So far Vajpayee had been spared of any charge but only a report published in the Outlook magazine long ago mentioned Vajpayee as one of those who were aware of the conspiracy to demolish Babri Masjid.

It is somewhat surprising that Justice Liberhan has directly blamed Shri Vajpayee and LK Advani for conspiring to demolish Babri Masjid because it was reported in the media that there was controversy between Mr. Gupta, the advocate for the Commission and Justice Liberhan on the culpability of Shri Advani and Gupta alleged that Justice Liberhan wants to go soft on Advani and hence he resigned.

In his interviews to the media, Justice Liberhan had maintained that his integrity is beyond questioning and that he has indicted people strictly on the basis of evidence before him and that he has not spared anyone. This was after he submitted his report. What he had told the media has now been borne out. He has indicted not only Advani but also Vajpayee.

On the basis of evidence that includes witness statements and official records, one of the key conclusions of the Commission's 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 unaware of what was going on or innocent of any wrongdoing. Advani had claimed that demolition was a 'spontaneous' event and that he was very sorry for that. He claimed that he even wept for what happened.
However, the Commission has rejected this claim and held him responsible for what happened. The Commission probed the sequence of events leading, and all facts and circumstances relating, to the occurrence at Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid complex on 6 December, 1992 - the day Babri Masjid was brought down by karsevaks.

The Commission 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 has 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.

What Justice Liberhan says is true. It was never a spontaneous demand from Hindu masses to construct Ramjanambhoomi temple, much less after demolishing Babri Masjid. In fact, in the speeches delivered by Advani and other Sangh leaders it was hidden from Hindu masses that the Sangh Parivar proposes to demolish Babri Masjid. This, in all probability, would not have been acceptable to Hindus. It is also true that the Ramjanambhoomi campaign assumed such proportions and it aroused such frenzy among members and supporters of the Sangh Parivar that it became difficult for voices of sanity to be raised by Hindus. They were almost intimidated into submission. This is what happens when fascist movements become strong and no space is left for dissent or protest.

The Liberhan Commission is also 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. Advani, when he appeared before the Commission, had claimed that he was pained by the events at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. What is interesting is that Liberhan says that none of them had the capacity to defy the orders of the RSS without damaging their political future. By implication Justice Liberhan has suggested that to demolish Babri Masjid was a decision taken by the RSS and it was executed by the BJP leaders and hordes of VHP and Bajrang Dal. The Liberahan Commission goes much further in indicting the Sangh Parivar for its complicity in the event.

The Commission reportedly said that these leaders can't be given the benefit of doubt or absolved of culpability and names Vajpayee, Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. It is very strong indictment indeed. The Commission is also said to have concluded that the diversion of funds to Faizabad and Ayodhya just before the karseva, mobilization of karsevaks as well as arrangements made at the site with military-like precision, clearly prove that the plan was just not limited to a symbolic karseva, as claimed by Sangh and BJP leaders.

Vajpayee himself had committed in the session of National Integration Council that the karseva would be symbolic and yet he did nothing to fulfill his commitment to the nation and hence what Justice Liberhan says is quite correct. Under the cover of symbolic seva, it was planned to bring down Babri Masjid and all arrangements were made with 'military-like precision'. The Hindi media consistently described this as demolition of "vivadit dhancha" (controversial structure) as if it was not a legally constructed historical mosque.

Liberhan further says that the small number of karsevaks who actually carried out the demolition, the hidden faces of such karsevaks, the removal of idols and cash boxes from under the domes and the eventual installation of the idols in the makeshift temple clearly show that the demolition was carried out with painstaking preparation and planning. In fact, nothing was left to chance.

The Commission also feels that the elite leaders of Muslim organizations 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, Commission claimed, 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.

There were sane voices among the Muslim community also but the way a section of the Muslim leadership aroused emotions in the community, it became difficult to listen to these sane voices. For Muslims too it became an emotional issue and logical thinking and action became very difficult, if not impossible. Thus it should be clear to all that raising a historical controversy to high emotional pitch does nothing but harm any community and only unscrupulous elements gain from it.

It may, however, be difficult to agree with Liberhan Commission when it observes that Central government cannot be blamed as according to the Constitution, no action could be taken without the governor of the state submitting a report requiring action by the Centre. To dismiss Kalyan Singh Government was perhaps not possible but Narsimha Rao Government could have saved Babri Masjid if it had ordered the Rapid Action Force positioned just 11 kms from Ayodhya to move in and save the Masjid. DIG, RAF, himself told me later in a seminar that we could have saved the Masjid, if only orders had been received in time to act. We only wondered why no orders came from the authorities, he said. Muslims too said that Narsimha Rao was not interested in saving the mosque.

Now it is to be seen what action the Central Government takes on the Liberhan Commission Report. Also, one has to see how the leaders of the Sangh Parivar react to this report. The BJP is already in the doledrum and it will certainly be another blow to its waning fortune. (Secular Perspective)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2009 on page no. 18

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