Babri acquittal

Almost 28 years after one of the worst communal outrages in the history of independent India, there is still no closure to the Babri Masjid demolition case. Truth and justice lie buried deep under the debris. A special CBI court has acquitted all 32 accused, including BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, citing lack of ‘conclusive’ proof of their involvement. The CBI produced as many as 351 witnesses and around 600 documents as evidence before the court, but it all came to nothing in the end. Who hatched the conspiracy to demolish the mosque? Who incited the frenzied mob — comprising tens of thousands, if not lakhs, of kar sevaks — that went berserk with hammers and axes? What about the well-documented role of senior politicians in fanning the flames? Appallingly, the premier investigation agency has no answers to these all-important questions. The CBI, once described as a ‘caged parrot’ by the Supreme Court, owes an explanation for the case falling flat despite all the oral evidence, TV footage and newspaper reports.

While awarding the disputed site at Ayodhya to Hindu claimants, the apex court had noted on November 9, 2019, that the demolition was ‘an egregious violation of the rule of law’. The settling of the land dispute, however, paved the way for giving a quiet burial to the demolition case, which was no longer considered to be politically encashable. But the fact that a televised monstrosity — which had a ghastly aftermath in the form of riots that broke out in several states, followed by the 1993 Mumbai bombings — has gone unpunished is a new low for the country’s criminal justice system.

Even as the construction of Ram Mandir is underway, the razing of the Babri Masjid continues to be a festering wound for Indian democracy and constitutional values. It’s a telling reminder of the abject failure of Central and state governments to prevent a free-for-all. Mandir-masjid politics might have outlived its utility, but the scourge of communalism rages on, as witnessed during the February 2020 riots in Delhi. Alas, the State continues to be as powerless as ever before the rabble-rousers.

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