A special CBI court on Wednesday acquitted all 32 living accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, 28 years after Hindutva zealots brought down the 16th-century Islamic place of worship. Special CBI judge Surendra Kumar Yadav said that there was no conclusive evidence against the accused.
BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh were not present in the court in person. A report by NDTV said that 92-year-old Advani and 86-year-old Joshi were exempted from attending on health grounds, while Uma Bharti has contracted coronavirus and Kalyan Singh is recuperating from it.
The demolition of Babri Masjid had triggered countrywide pogroms leaving thousands of people, mostly Muslims, dead. The trial, which lasted for 28 years, was conducted under Sections 147/153-A/153-B/295/295-A/505 IPC read with Sections 149 and 120B IPC.
Judge SK Yadav was scheduled to retire on 30 September 2019 but was given an extension to complete the trial.
The Supreme Court had extraordinarily restored the criminal conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi, and Bharti in the case in April 2017. The apex court had also said that the trial against the accused will take place in a time-bound manner together with another case currently underway against karsevaks.
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad and the CBI against the dropping of conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and 19 others for the demolition of the disputed medieval structure on 6 December 1992.
During the hearing, the bench had also said that the supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not against the 13 who were discharged.
Besides BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh, the then Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).
Advani along with party colleagues like Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi were charged with making inflammatory speeches that motivated lakhs of right-wing volunteers or karsevaks to pull down the mosque in 1992.
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12:30 PM: All accused in Babri Masjid demolition case acquitted by Special CBI Court in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. (ANI)
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10:40 AM: Babri verdict: Accused Sadhvi Rithambhara, Vinay Katiyar, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey arrive in court. (PTI)
09:51 AM: Lucknow: Security tighetened around Special CBI court. The court will pronounce its verdict today in the Babri Masjid demolition case. (ANI)
09:40 AM: Babri verdict: Accused Vinay Katiyar, Dharamdas, Vedanti, Lallu Singh, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey reach Lucknow. (PTI)