Hindu leaders are blamed for mosque plot that led to carnage

The Times/UK, November 24, 2009

Hindu radicals climb on to the mosque hours before it was destroyed

Hindu radicals climb on to the mosque hours before it was destroyed


Rhys Blakely in Mumbai


The destruction of a mosque by Hindu radicals that led to some of the bloodiest religious riots in India since Partition was “meticulously planned” by politicians including a former Prime Minister, according to a leaked report of the official investigation.The razing of the 16th-century Babri mosque — in the northern town of Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992, by an estimated 150,000 Hindus — led to national violence in which about 2,000 people died, mostly Muslims.


The demolition also cemented the power base of the Hindu fundamen-talist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came to power four years later. BJP hardliners had long claimed that the mosque stood on the birthplace of Lord Rama, the Hindu warrior god, and had campaigned for a Hindu temple to be built on the site.

The Indian Express newspaper reported yesterday that a longawaited official report would blame several BJP politicians for planning the destruction of the mosque with “military-like precision”. Those allegedly involved included Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister, the newspaper said. He led the BJP and was Prime Minister for a brief period in 1996, and from 1998 until 2004.


Lal Krishna Advani, the party’s current leader, will also be named, according to the newspaper. In 1990 Mr Advani toured India calling for a temple dedicated to Lord Rama to be built on the site of the mosque — a tour the leaked report concludes was designed to incite the “emotionally charged common man”.

The Babri mosque was destroyed when an organised demonstration turned into a frenzied attack, which the BJP insisted took them by surprise. Mr Advani was arrested briefly for provoking the attack, but was released without charge.

The newspaper says that it has seen a report prepared by Justice M. S. Liberhan, the judge appointed by the Government to launch an investigation ten days after the attack. The Liberhan Commission was initially asked to report within three months, but ran for 17 years, becoming the longest and most expensive inquiry in the history of independent India.

The report suggests that the commission has largely exonerated P. V. Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister at the time of the attack, and a key figure in the Congress Party, which leads the current ruling coalition. If true, this could lead to allegations that the commission has not been impartial, say analysts. Mr Rao was criticised for not sending security forces to the mosque before the attack, despite a Supreme Court order that the building should be protected.

Kuldip Nayar, a veteran political commentator, said: “It’s widely accepted that the BJP stoked the violence, but at the time, everybody thought the [Government] would send in forces to prevent the violation of the mosque.”

The leaks caused uproar in Parliament, with BJP politicians shouting “shame” and disrupting proceedings in both houses. The Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, attempted to calm tempers saying that the report should not be judged until it has been published in full later in the parliamentary session.

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