BJP faces hard reality on Babri case

Harihar Swarup

If convicted in Babri case L K Advani and others would get a minimum of five years in jails. Apart from BJP veterans Advani, M M Joshi and others, it is the BJP credibility that will be on trail for next two years and the outcome will coincide with the Lok Sabha elections. Their conviction would mean a sad end to political careers built on inflaming communal passion that had resulted in the Babri Masjid demolition and some 2,000 killings in riots that followed. They face the prospect of spending their sunset years in prison. Some of them had visualized of occupying either the PMO or Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Riding the high post-Uttar Pradesh victory, suddenly, the BJP leadership has been brought face-to-face with an ugly reality. All along the party had maintained that there was no conspiracy behind the Babri demolition. That view has been rubbished by the apex court. Now the choice before leadership is either shame-facedly allow Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh to continue as union minister and Rajasthan governor respectively and look the other way just it had done in case of Ram Naresh Yadav who had used his gubernatorial immunity to escape in Vypam case, or take the high moral ground and sacrifice both at the altar of principled politics. When Advani quit the Lok Sabha in 1996 on being charged in Hawala case, he, perhaps, did not realize he was setting an example other BJP leaders would find it difficult to follow.
Already living with the political ignominy of being reduced to Margdarshak, the BJP seniors may be reminded of truth. The top Hindutva practitioners will line up with karsevaks for day-to-day trail. Delay apart, the court has done its job. It is now for the BJP government to ensure that the trail proceeds fairly and squarely. More importantly, various stake holders at home and abroad will watch the Modi regime’s political response—whether Ayodhya emotionalism is whipped or the apex court is palmed off as a rule-of-law in progress.
In Babri Masjid case, the course of justice while being excruciatingly slow, has not been particularly productive so far. The Supreme Court’s decision to reopen the criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders such as L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti—Kalyan Singh being a governor has immunity for the duration of his term—comes nearly a quarter of a century after the fateful day on which the Babri Masjid was razed to the ground by frenzied Hindu mobs. This singular act of violence changed India’s landscape forever, deepening the fault-lines of polarization and communalization. The deadly riots which followed Advani’s rath yatra brought a militant Hindutva to the fore and claimed the lives of over 2000 people.
Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence and various commissions, the most notable presided over by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, which was set up 10 days after the event, justice has never been seen to be done in the case. The Liberhan commission clearly stated when it finally submitted its report seven years later that the BJP politicians involved were to blame. Yet the case has dragged on and now Supreme Court has given the proceedings another two years. Many of those named in the cases relating to the destruction of the mosque have died, or let off.
It is inexplicable why the process has taken so long and that too in such a landmark case. The Babri case is indicative of how justice that has been delayed so much eventually amounts to justice denied. This should occasion a serious review of how effectively the criminal justice system works. However, even at this late stage, the fact that the court has said there will be no adjournment is welcome. Ideally, the submission of the Liberhan report should have seen the case concluded. The court’s move may be a setback to the BJP leaders. But it is equally setback to for those who have been waiting for 25 years for the closure. (IPA)

Thursday, 27 April, 2017