India court acquits all in 1992 demolition of 16th-century mosque
New Delhi, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted all the accused, including some senior leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, in the 1992 demolition of a 16th-century mosque by Hindu fanatics that sparked widespread communal riots leaving some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members among the defendants in the case that ran for about 28 years included former deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and former ministers Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Kalyan Singh.
Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav ruled that there was no criminal conspiracy and that there was no conclusive evidence to prove that the demolition of the mosque was a pre-planned attack, defense lawyers said.
“It was not a premeditated attack. The BJP leaders present there tried to stop it,” defense lawyer Manish Tripathi told reporters.
Another defense lawyer, KK Misra, said the court ruled that the allegations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were all wrong, and the evidence against the accused was not enough to prove their involvement in the event.
“Some miscreants demolished the structure and these people tried to stop them. Investigators did not produce negatives of the photographs submitted as evidence. They could not prove that,” Misra said.
The court verdict follows a Supreme Court order last year that handed the disputed site where the mosque stood once to Hindus for the construction of a temple in the northern city of Ayodhya.
The land was at the center of communal conflict between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority since many Hindus believe the god-king Ram was born at the exact spot where the first Muslim Mughal ruler, Babur, built a mosque on top of a temple in the 16th century.
The mosque structure was razed down by a Hindu mob in December 1992 that sparked days of deadly communal riots.
The BJP leaders, including 92-year-old Advani, one of the founders of the BJP who served as the deputy prime minister in 2002-04 in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, were accused of making inflammatory speeches and inciting tens of thousands of their followers to attack the mosque.
The prosecution had submitted videos of their speech and photographs as evidence to prove their involvement.
“All the video recordings were fabricated and these were tampered with. The CBI did not comply with Sec.65 of the Evidence Act. So the court acquitted all of the accused on lack of evidence,” said lawyer Misra, who represented 25 of the 32 accused.
Advani released a statement saying he felt “blessed” that this acquittal came in the footsteps of the Supreme Court judgment on Ayodhya that paved way for his “long cherished dream” of seeing the Ram temple built there.
“The judgment vindicates my personal and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s belief and commitment towards the Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace) Movement,” Advani said.
The CBI had registered criminal cases against a total of 49 people. Seventeen of them died during the trial that lasted for nearly three decades in the notorious sluggish legal system of India. EFE-EPA