THE PLANK NOVEMBER 23, 2009
On the eve of the Obama administration's first State Dinner--a dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh--The Indian Express has a major scoop. The 1992 destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodyha led to the deaths of more than 1000 people, and arguably remains the most controversial event in recent Indian history. A retired supreme court justice, M.S. Liberhan, led a commission that investigated the massacre. The commission's report--almost two decades in the making--was submitted to the prime minister, but kept secret. Yesterday, it leaked.
Calling them “pseudo-moderates,” the Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan Commission of Inquiry has indicted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with current Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani and former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi, among others, for the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Citing the evidence it gathered, which includes witness statements and official records, one of the key conclusions of the Commission is said to be that the entire build-up to the demolition was meticulously planned. And there was nothing to show that these leaders were either unaware of what was going on or innocent of any wrongdoing.
The report is learnt to have said that despite claims to the contrary, the Ayodhya campaign did not enjoy the willing and voluntary support of the common masses, particularly Hindus. In fact, Liberhan is learnt to have said that the demand for a temple never became a mass movement. The campaign only ended up silencing the voices of sanity and shaming them into joining the movement.
The "pseudo-moderate" comment is particularly noteworthy because the politicians listed above are indeed considered to be moderate members of the BJP, one of India's two largest political parties (Singh belongs to other major party, Congress). In other words, one of the most horrific acts of religious-inspired violence of the past quarter-century was orchestrated by the relatively sane wing of the country's second largest political party. This a rather humbling thought for the people who (rightly) want to celebrate the emergence of India as the world's other gigantic, multiethnic democracy.
The BBC has more.