The 1992 demolition was preceded by a series of rath yatras by the BJP’s LK Advani.

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh:
The demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, was not planned, a judge in Uttar Pradesh said today, acquitting all 32 accused including BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti of conspiracy charges in a landmark verdict. “The accused tried to stop the demolition,” said special CBI judge SK Yadav. The judge also said the Hindu activists who tore down the 16th-century mosque were “anti-social elements”.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet in this big story:

  1. LK Advani, 92, MM Joshi, 87, and Uma Bharti, 61, were not present in court and watched via video link when the verdict was announced. They had all been accused of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and inciting activists with incendiary speeches from a dais next to the site.

  2. “Anti-social elements brought down the structure. The accused leaders tried to stop these people,” said the special judge, whose term had been extended for this verdict. The judge also said the audio and video evidence that the CBI submitted before the court did not prove any conspiracy. “The audio of the speeches were also not clear,” he said.

  3. The mosque demolition was preceded by a series of Rath Yatras by LK Advani, whose Ram temple campaign catapulted the BJP to the national spotlight. Mr Advani, Mr Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, who are among the 32 surviving accused, were allegedly present on the stage near the mosque where politicians, religious leaders and temple campaigners had delivered speeches. The investigating agencies said they instigated the crowd with their speeches.

  4. Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at the time of the demolition. His government was dismissed as riots broke out across the country, leaving around 3,000 people dead. Former Union minister Uma Bharti, who is admitted in a hospital in Uttarakhand after contracting COVID-19, had declared that she would not seek bail if she was convicted and she would accept any punishment with pride.

  5. Mr Advani recorded his statement before the special CBI court through video conference on July 24. He was asked 100 questions. Both he and Mr Joshi denied all charges against them.

  6. Over the last 28 years, the case has seen many turns. Two cases were filed in 1992, which eventually grew to 49. The second case, FIR no 198, had named Mr Advani, Mr Joshi and Uma Bharti for promoting religious enmity and provoking rioting. Later, the Supreme Court asked that criminal conspiracy charges be restored against them.

  7. In 1993, the CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation filed a single, consolidated chargesheet against 48 people including Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

  8. The 16th century mosque was razed by thousands of “Kar Sevaks” who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. The incident led to riots across the country, in which 3,000 died, and changed India’s political landscape forever.

  9. In a historic ruling in November, the Supreme Court handed over the site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims for the building of a Ram temple. The groundbreaking ceremony took place earlier this year, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing the main rituals.

  10. In an interview to NDTV in 2000, Mr Advani had conceded that the Babri mosque razing was a “terrible mistake”.  He said: “Till today, frankly, I do not know whether it was mob fury, a mob going out of control or a small determined group which did not agree with the leadership of the movement who thought that this should be done, I’m not clear in my mind.” Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said a section of Kar Sevaks went out of control. “What happened in Ayodhya was very unfortunate. It should not have happened. We tried, to prevent it, but we did not succeed. We are sorry for that,” he told NDTV.


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