Babri demolition verdict today; Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharati to be absent
A special CBI court is scheduled to pronounce the verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition case on Wednesday (September 30).
Senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and former ministers Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, the four main accused in the case, however, will not be present in the court. While Advani and Joshi, have been exempted from the hearing on health grounds, Uma Bharati is suffering from COVID-19 and Kalyan Singh is recovering from the disease.
Several reports, however, say that Singh and Uma Bharati may attend through video conferencing.
CBI judge Surendra Kumar Yadav will read out the verdict at 10 am.
Twenty six of the 32 accused in the case are likely to be present in the court.
The demolition of 16th century Mughal mosque Babri Masjid, which stood at the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, resulted in communal violence, leading to the death of at least 2,000 people. In the days preceding the event, Advani had carried out a series of Ram Rath Yatra, with the message to reclaim the site for a Ram temple.
Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti were allegedly on the dais and instigated people with incendiary speeches when the mosque was razed down. Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during the time of the demolition and the resultant riots led to the fall of his government.
The four BJP leaders now face charges of criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity.
While Advani and Joshi have denied charges against them in their statements recorded before a special CBI court recorded in July this year, Uma Bharti, has written to BJP chief JP Nadda that she will not seek bail if she is convicted in the case.
While initially only two cases were filed, the number has grown to 49 in the last 28 years. The CBI, in 1998 filed a consolidated chargesheet against 48 people including Bal Thackeray and Kalyan Singh.
Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti were named in the second case – FIR no 198. The cases were moved from Lalitpur to Rae Bareli in Lucknow.
The Supreme Court in 2017 asked the special court in Lucknow to complete the trial within two years with daily hearings. The deadline was later extended to September 30 after requests for more time by special judge SK Yadav.