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Special CBI court acquits all 32 accused in Babri Mosque demolition case

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Not surprisingly, the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The demolition of the 16th century mosque in 1992 sparked Hindu-Muslim violence leaving some 2,000 people dead.

The CBI is an investigating agency which has filed a complaint against 49 people for demolishing the Babri Mosque. Of these 17 have died, the remaining 32 were still accused.

On Tuesday, the CBI court acquitted all the 32 accused, including former deputy prime minister LK Advani, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti, former union minister Murli Manohar Joshi and ex-Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, saying the demolition of the mosque was a spontaneous act and not a pre-planned one.

The CBI Court verdict was not unexpected since India's Supreme Court last year gave a judgment favoring the building of a Hindu temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya.

India's top court handed a huge victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu right-wing party in November 2019 by awarding Hindus control of the holy site that once was home to the 16th century Babri Moqsue.

The Supreme Court had ruled that the site in Ayodhya in northern India must be managed by a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple.

A separate piece of land in Ayodhya was given over to a Muslim group to build a "prominent" new mosque, the court had ruled in its hotly awaited 1,045-page biased verdict.

Last month, Modi inaugurated the construction of the temple, which was one of the promises the BJP made when the party was founded in the 1980s. The party rose to national prominence on the back of the temple movement.

Many Hindus claim that the 16th-century mosque, named after Mughal emperor Babur, was built on the location of Ram's birthplace in Ayodhya.

On December 6, 1992, tens of thousands of Hindus gathered for a rally near the disputed site and groups of them climbed the mosque and demolished it with axes and hammers.

Witness account

Political analysts see the CBI court as a Kangaroo Court since the CBI is an investigation agency and the Indian government has empowered it to prosecute those against whom it is probing.

Senior journalist Ruchira Gupta witnessed the incident 28 years ago. She testified before the government-appointed inquiry commission headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan. The commission submitted its report in 2009 indicting senior leaders from the BJP.

"I was an eyewitness to all that happened. On the day of the demolition, I was on the terrace with BJP and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] leaders like LK Advani, Uma Bharati, Murli Manohar Joshi, Mohan Bhagwat, among several others," she told Al Jazeera Wednesday.

On December 6, 1992, tens of thousands of Hindus gathered for a rally near the Babri Mosque and groups of them climbed the mosque and demolished it with axes and hammers.

"On the day of the demolition, Advani kept announcing on microphone that security forces should not be allowed near the mosque. Is that not deliberate intent? Pravin Jain, a photographer, who was there on the day of the demolition said that he saw dress rehearsal of demolition of mosque. I have testified before Liberhan Commission and surprisingly CBI never asked me to testify which is proof that they had already decided the outcome."

In a press release, the Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the acquittal as "shameful". "This is yet another manifestation of the pliant judiciary under the extremist BJP-RSS regime in which extremist 'Hindutva' ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice and international norms," the statement said.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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