India

Top BJP leaders including Advani, Uma Bharti accused of Babri Masjid demolition to skip court verdict today

New Delhi: The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) senior leaders including LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, all accused in the Babri masjid demolition case, are unlikely to be present in the trial court on Wednesday at the time of delivery of the verdict in the matter, a report by news agency PTI said.

The special court in Lucknow will today announce the verdict in the 28-year-old case involving the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Quoting their advocate KK Mishra, the report said that Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief, Nritya Gopal Das, too is likely to skip the CBI special court today.

Ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict, the other accused Vinay Katiyar, Dharamdas, Vedanti, Lallu Singh, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey have reached Lucknow.

CBI judge SK Yadav had on September 16 directed all the 32 surviving accused to remain present in the court on the day of the judgment.

Singh, during whose tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was demolished, was put on trial in September last year after his tenure as governor (of Rajasthan) came to an end.

Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the Ram temple, is also among those accused.

The report added that with the Supreme Court setting August 31 as the deadline and later extending it by a month for the CBI court to give its verdict, the trial court started day-to-day hearing to complete the task in time.

According to the report, the central agency produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 17 have died during the course of trial.

The trial under the serious criminal conspiracy charges commenced against them after having been dropped by the trial court in 2001. The verdict was upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2010, but the apex court ordered restoration of the conspiracy charge against them on April 19, 2017.

In this regard, the top court ordered daily hearing in the high profile case and directed the special judge to conclude it in two years.

Besides other charges, the charge of conspiracy is in addition to the existing charges against them for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion for which they are already facing trial.

The report said that accused are also facing charges of having made assertions “prejudicial to national integration and injuring or defiling a place of worship”.

The other charges against them include indulging in “deliberate and malicious” acts intended to outrage religious feelings, uttering statements leading to public mischief, rioting and unlawful assembly, the report mentioned.

The CBI argued that the accused conspired and instigated ‘kar sevaks’ to demolish the 16th-century mosque.

However, the accused maintained that there is no evidence to prove their guilt and claimed they were implicated by the then GoI as a political vendetta.

Claiming that the mosque was built on the site of Ram temple, the Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 by “kar sevaks”.

Last year during the judgment, the Supreme Court of India allotted the disputed site in Ayodhya for construction of a Ram temple and an alternative five-acre site was marked in the city for building a mosque.

Before the 2017 verdict of the apex court, two sets of cases were being heard in Lucknow and Raebareli.

The report added that trial of the first case involving unnamed ‘kar  sevaks’ was going on in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relating to the eight VVIPs, including Advani, Joshi, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Ashok Singhal, Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Ritambhara, were going on in a Raebareli court.

While restoring the charge of criminal conspiracy, the top court had directed clubbing of two cases relating to the demolition and had also ordered that the trial be concluded in two years.

 

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