After almost 30 years of demolition of the Babri Masjid by a mob in Uttar Pradesh, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 accused, including BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, citing lack of evidence. BJP leaders LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi welcomed the verdict.
Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi in 1528, by the commander of Mughal emperor Babur in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
However, the location of the mosque has been the source of dispute between the two religions- Hindus and Muslims. The Hindu community asserts that it was built on top of Ram Janmabhoomi, which is believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu Deity Rama.
Mahant Raghubir Das filed the first suit in the matter in 1885, seeking to build a temple on land adjoining the mosque. The Faizabad District Magistrate (DM) refused permission. Later, he filed a suit in Faizabad Court against the Secretary of State for India, seeking permission to build a temple on the Chabutra (courtyard) of the Babri mosque, which was rejected by Faizabad Court.
On December 22, 1949, a Ram Idol appeared inside the mosque. The Hindu community thought of it as a divine revelation and started worshipping, however many argue that the Idol was smuggled inside at night. Due to the dispute, the Government declared the site as a “contested area” and locked the entrance.
A year later two suits were filed in Faizabad Court by Gopal Simla Visharad and Paramhansa Ramachandra Das in 1950, seeking permission to conduct Hindu pujas to Ram Lalla. The Court granted the parties permission to conduct pujas. However, the Court ordered the inner courtyard gates to remain locked.
The inner Gate of Babri Masjid was opened on February 1, 1986, after the appeal of UC Pandey, stating that the Faizabad district administration ordered its closure and not the Court. Also allowing the Hindus for “pooja and darshan”, which was against the idea of the Babri Mosque Action Committee (BMAC) leading to a series of protests.
In 1989, the Allahabad High Court ordered for status quo in respect of the disputed structure.
And on December 6, 1992, Babri was demolished by a violent mob of Karsevaks, in front of the security forces. Later, two FIRs were filed in the case. One against unknown Karsevaks for demolition of the mosque. The other against BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and others for allegedly giving communal speeches before the demolition.
The Narsimha Rao Government issued an ordinance acquiring 67.7 acres of land (Site and adjoining areas), which was passed as a law in 1993 – Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act, 1993 to facilitate the acquisition of land by the Central government.
Babri Masjid: CBI Charge Sheet
Followed by a charge sheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Advani and others of conspiracy, but was dropped by Special CBI court in May 2001, for lack of evidence.
In Nov 2004, the CBI challenged the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in the dropping of proceedings against BJP leaders on technical grounds, to which the court issued notices, but dismissed the plea stating there’s no merit in CBI’s revision petition in May 2010.
On September 30, 2010, In a 2:1 majority, the Allahabad HC split the land in three ways, dividing the land between three parties: one third for the Sunni Wakf Board, one third for the Nirmohi Akhara and one third to Ram Lalla Virajman and on May 2011, the Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court ruling.
In Feb 2011, CBI moved Supreme Court against a high court order in the mosque demolition case. Later in Mar 2017, the Supreme Court indicated it may consider reviving conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case in their attempt to resolve the Ayodhya dispute.
In April 2017, SC favoured time-bound completion of trial in the case and reserved order on CBI’s plea, restoring the criminal conspiracy charges against leaders including Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti and clubs the trials in the matters pending against VIPs and kar sevaks.
Later in Nov 2019, the SC granted the entire disputed land in Ayodhya to deity Ram Lalla and directed the govt to allot an alternative five-acre plot to Muslims to build a mosque and in August 2020, PM Narendra Modi conducted a ‘bhoomi pujan’ in Ayodhya, while inaugurating the construction of Ram temple.
The Supreme Court extended the deadline for completion of trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case by a month and on September 30, the Special Judge S.K. Yadav delivered judgment in the mosque demolition case, all accused acquitted.