A day after all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case were acquitted, former BJP MP and Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain took issue with Justice M S Liberhan, author of the Liberhan Commission report, alleging that BJP leader Uma Bharti had taken responsibility for the demolition.
In the one-man enquiry commission’s report, Justice Liberhan had said the demolition was “meticulously planned”. Speaking to The Indian Express the day of the verdict, he stood by his report and said, “All of them, Advani, Vajpayee, appeared before me, and what I found, I presented in my report, but they can’t be a witness against themselves… Some of them took responsibility for the demolition. Uma Bharti categorically claimed responsibility… if the judge says she is not responsible, what can I do…,” he had said.
A day later, Jain, who was an advocate for L K Advani and Bharti tweeted, “Justice M. S. Liberhan’s statement ‘Uma Bharti categorically took responsibility for it’ reported in the print media today is not true. As the counsel representing Advani ji, Joshi ji & Uma Bharti ji before the Liberhan Commission, I was privy to each and every statement recorded by the Commission over 14 years. Uma Ji never made any such statement taking any responsibility for the demolition. In fact, she stated that she was sent by Advani ji to the crowd to persuade them against demolishing the structure but Kar-Sewaks sent her back, asking her to go away & to not come again. Justice Liberhan himself mentions what I stated about Uma Bharti ji in para 124.15 in Chapter 10 of the Report of Liberhan Ayodhya Commission of Enquiry submitted by him. Justice Liberhan’s statement made today thus runs contrary to even his own report!”
Asked about Jain’s tweet, Justice Liberhan said, “…Ask Jain to give you a copy of the full statement made by Uma Bharti.”
Jain said he had tweeted the “operative part” and did not have Bharti’s full statement. Asked again whether he remembered Bharti taking onus for her role in the demolition, Justice Liberhan said, “She has said so a number of times in many newspapers.”
Status check| Mumbai riot cases triggered by Babri demolition
Speaking to journalists in April 2017, Bharti had said she had “never apologised, or expressed remorse” for her involvement in the Ayodhya movement. “Koi saazish nahi thi, sab kuch khulam khula tha. Saazish toh tab hogi jab man mein kuch aur ho, bahar kuch aur ho. (There was no conspiracy, everything was in the open. There would have been conspiracy if there was something else in the mind, something else in the open.) The report itself does not say “she took responsibility”, it outlines her alleged role in repeated references.
In chapter 4, “Sequence of Events”, the report says that on December 5, 1992, Bharti and some others advised karsevaks to be “disciplined and tolerant”, and they were told “what they will have to do” the next day (43.37). The next point (43.38) says these speakers said they were “there to construct a temple and not to demolish a mosque”. “It was said that, “As long as the Ram idols are there, it is a Ram temple and we will not demolish it.” They admitted that the situation could go haywire and added that “we have to remain disciplined and under all circumstances keep the peace”, the report says.
The report details how Advani reportedly made requests over the public address system for kar sevaks to come down from the dome. Bharti was one of those he deputed to persuade them but she was told that the sewaks had not come to “eat halwa puri” but to “face firing”.(44.25) The next point calls this a “charade” as it was “in stark contradiction to their own prior conduct and their public posture, incitement and exhortations to the crowd to build a temple in place of the disputed structure”. (44.26)
The same chapter records Bharti’s jubilation “during and after the demolition” saying she along with other leaders claimed it was their success and “went into ecstasy along with their followers”. (44.51)
Explained Ideas| Why Babri Masjid demolition verdict is being seen as unjust
In Chapter 5, called “The administration”, Liberhan says that in response to a question on whether the management of karseva was in the hands of volunteers, Bharti said “may have been”(54.13). One chapter later, called “Mobilisation of Kar Sevaks”, the report records that the feeling of the government being with the supporters of construction was reaffirmed by Bharti stating that “demands like removal of barriers, removal of hurdles, handing over the acquired land etc. were met by the Kalyan Singh government.” (60.19)
The same chapter says that on the day of demolition, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Bharti apart from “going along going along with the Karsevaks on demolition, themselves became belligerent and militant”.(61.25)
Chapter 10, “The Joint Common Exercise” says Bharti stated that she tried to persuade kar sevaks to descend from the disputed structure but she was “taunted”(124.15). The same chapter records Madhav Godbole, the then Union Home Secretary opining that the demolition was a culmination of efforts of leaders like MM Joshi, Advani, Bharti and others (124.19).
R N Srivastava, then DM Faizabad, had said that on the morning of December 6, there was a meeting at the house of Vinay Katiyar, which Bharti was a part of. Katiyar denied there was such a meeting. Srivastava also “admitted” playing of provocative tapes of “Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Ritambra.” (124.29) The Commission also said that there was “sufficient and believable evidence on record” that provocative speeches were delivered. (126.12)
The report also records that Bharti “stated that she did not remember any political or religious leader or any one from the administration, even making an attempt to defuse the situation or moving towards the crowd to prevent their entry into the disputed structure of climbing the domes for carrying out the demolition”. (130.54)
While saying that the plan for demolition was “conceived and executed” at the highest political and governmental levels, the report also said leaders like Bharti were “positively ecstatic during the demolition” and that “None had any remorse over the demolition.”(132.5)
(With inputs from Navjeevan Gopal and Manraj Grewal)