Special Reports

Why cases of murder during Babri Masjid demolition were suppressed?

By Sheetla Singh
On 6 December, 1992 when President's rule was imposed in UP after the demolition of Babri Masjid, 14 persons were burnt alive, 3 persons disappeared and 267 houses and shops were set on fire. A delegation of 7 members who had met the prime minister at his official residence at 7, Race Course Road had personally given all this information to him. Of the dead persons, panchnama of eight dead bodies had been made and post mortem also was conducted and thereafter the dead bodies were secretly buried under police supervision in Ronahi Graveyard, 20 kilometres away from the town. No case was filed in this case nor anybody was questioned nor any action was taken against anybody. Six bodies were completely burnt. What you or any one else would call all these?

After Babri Masjid's demolition, prime minister's deputy minister Jitender Prasad himself phoned and told me that (prime minister) Rao Saheb wanted to meet the people whose family members have been killed. This means that he had already got the information about the deaths. A seven member delegation met him on 9th January 1993 and gave him the list of 14 persons who were burnt alive, three missing persons as well as the names and addresses of owners of 267 houses and shops which were burnt and a request was made to him that the family members of the dead may be given a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each, Rs 50 thousand each to the seriously injured and Rs 10 thousand to the injured persons, and that the people whose houses and shops were set on fire may be given financial assistance for rebuilding them and that the arguments of (Delhi) Development Authority that the destroyed or burnt out houses and shops can be rebuilt only after approval of their building plan and payment of the required fees, should be rejected.

The prime minister had expressed his anger and displeasure over this and had asked one of his IAS officers to take care of this and keep him (prime minister) informed about the progress. Next day HRD minister summoned UP Governor Satya Narayen Reddy who was in Delhi at that time, introduced him to delegation members and asked him to personally supervise the relief and rehabilitation work. The Governor visited Ayodhya and under his supervision, the work as desired by delegation members was completed (i.e. rebuilding of burnt houses and shops etc) but regrettably no action was taken against the brute criminals who burnt alive human beings and set fire to the shops and houses? The police also had not registered any case against these criminals.

In any criminal case the state has to take action after the post mortem of the dead. But in this case no action has been taken till date on the pretext that no FIR was ever registered. The prime minister, however, already knew about all this and of the police apathy. When security forces and CRP were posted in large number in Ayodhya, even then no effort was made to prevent all this. Despite all this precaution, the house of a person belonging to minority community, situated right in front of the Ram Janmabhumi Police Station, was set on fire by the karsevaks while the police, present in large numbers, and the fire tenders just looked on, doing nothing to prevent the karsevaks or to douse the fire. The Prime Minister was more concerned about the karsevaks because he feared that any police action would harm them.

The Prime Minister was kept informed of the happenings at the trouble spot every minute. By refraining from taking action against the karsevaks when they began to build a temporary temple at the spot of the demolished Babri Masjid, Prime Minister became a silent accomplice to the whole sordid tale. He was also told that police personnel were also making offerings there. According to the then SP, the offerings amounted to Rs 5000. Rao has also mentioned these things in his book Ayodhya ka sach.

Criminals go scot-free
An argument is being advanced that since there is no time limit for registration of FIR in cases of murder, fresh FIR may be registered. But in spite of several governments coming to power ever since, no need was felt for taking any action or for filing FIRs anew. In that arson a sick woman who could not flee and was lying wrapped up in her quilt was burnt alive along with her quilt. Her dead body was found on the third day. There is no need to emphasise that the attitude of police was to protect the karsevaks and not to protect the lives of common people. Only one lady IPS officer, Anju Gupta was seen active in certain areas and she saved some people also for which many people praised her. There were also many high police officers who were celebrating the Masjid demolition and dancing on the roof of the police control room.

 A question is now being raised that in case of murder if the government gives some compensation or some other assistance to the family members of the deceased person/s, does the matter end there? What about criminals / murderers? Should they not be identified and punished? The successive governments have miserably failed in their bounden duty. In the case of journalists and cameramen who were attacked on 6th December and their cameras were broken and they were physically harmed, preliminary investigations were made by the then IG, Shri Ram Arun (who had subsequently become UP's Director General of Police). Some reporters were paid compensations by the government but not a single criminal was either identified or arrested. Trial or punishment is out of question.

Enquiry Commission
This question had come up before the Liberhan Commission also and many photographs also were submitted to him; but this was not within the purview of this Commission's enquiry. In any case the Muslims of Ayodhya had started thinking and were soon convinced that police department and large number of security forces were certainly not for protecting them; they were there for helping the karsevaks. The police alibi for its criminal dereliction of duty is that no one lodged complaints about the persons killed at Babri Masjid area during the agitation. That is just a lame excuse. It was the duty of the police to take action when murders took place. Those whose family members were killed were of the view that when large number of police present there could not protect and help them,of what use will be the filing FIR and how they could have gone to police station to file it.

An example would be enough to give an idea of the prevailing situation. When on the third day of demolition, the Deputy IG of Police, V.M. Saraswat, who as special officer of BSF had reached the disputed Babri Masjid site to take its possession, he telephoned at 2 in the night and said that "neither we had to use lathi nor tear gas nor bullets, not even dandas and the 20-25 karsevaks who were present there took to their heels on seeing us…" (Newspaper reports). The central government had all along been saying that if police force was used, riots on a very large scale could have erupted.

Hence, when the then general secretary of Congress, Naval Kishore Sharma, invited the delegation members for breakfast before meeting the prime minister they refused, saying that "we consider you guilty because in spite of all assurances your government did not protect us. In any case, however, we have to record our protest and complaint to the prime minister because he is constitutionally holding the highest executive post and hence he will have to be informed about the position." Leaders of this 7-member delegation were Captain Afzaal and Anees Saheb and among the other members were late Mrs Nirmala Deshpande , myself and Ms Suman Gupta, journalist. Central minister Jitender Prasad was present all the time. (Translated from Urdu by NA Ansari)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 November 2009 on page no. 13

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