Babri case: BJP veteran Advani, others charged with criminal conspiracy

UP CM received Advani and Dr Joshi with flowers at a VVIP guest house and spent about 30 minutes with them.

Lucknow: Nearly 25 years after the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, a special CBI court in Lucknow on Tuesday framed criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar.

Conspiracy charges were also framed against Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Rithambara.

All the accused were present in the court which had a ring of tight security around it. Entry into the premises was strictly restricted and traffic on the road outside was being diverted.

The criminal conspiracy charges against all the accused, under Section 120 B of the IPC, are to be read with Section 153 (inciting a mob with an intent to cause riots), Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and disrupting communal harmony), Section 295 (defiling a place of worship with an intent to insult the religion), Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any community) and Section 505 (provocative statements causing public unrest).

Before filing the charges, CBI special judge S.K. Yadav granted bail to all six on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each, but rejected their petition to discharge the case against them.

The accused had argued that they had no role in the razing of the mosque and had tried to stop it.

After the court proceedings were over for the day, Ms Bharti told the media, “It was an open movement like the movement against the Emergency. I don’t see any conspiracy... I don’t consider myself guilty.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Advani arrived in Lucknow to a rousing reception, but he did not speak with the media and looked considerably upset after framing of the charges.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath received Mr Advani and Dr Joshi with flowers at a VVIP guest house and spent about 30 minutes with them.

Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu strongly defended the BJP leaders, saying: “Our leaders are innocent. They will come out unscathed.”

He said he would not comment beyond it as the matter is in the court.

LK Advani ‘forced’ to appear in court
The BJP apparently wants to send a clear message that it will not abandon its leaders who now stand accused in the Babri demolition case.

Mr Advani, 89-year-old party patriarch, who is now side-lined, is credited with reviving the BJP’s political fortunes.

Tuesday’s appearance was Mr Advani’s second court appearance in the Babri case. He had appeared in the Rae Bareli court almost a decade-and-a-half ago.

A lawyer representing the accused said that his clients could file a plea against the special court’s decision to turn down their discharge petition.

All the accused were present in the court following its directions on May 25, insisting on their personal appearance on May 30.

The court had earlier fixed May 25 as the day for framing charges, but only one accused appeared in court — Shiv Sena leader Satish Pradhan.

The court, which is hearing two separate cases relating to the demolition of the 16th century Babri mosque, also framed charges against six others — Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Dr Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan in the second matter.

Earlier, the BJP leaders were given a rousing reception on their arrival in Lucknow and chants of “Jai Shri Ram” rent the air at the airport and, later, the guest house.

In 2001, the conspiracy charge against Mr Advani and others was dropped by the special CBI as it sought to distinguish between the main demolition case and the case related to the hate speeches. The decision was endorsed by the Allahabad high court in 2010.

But on April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court, calling the destruction of the mosque a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution”, ordered prosecution of Mr Advani, Dr Joshi, Ms Bharti and other accused for criminal conspiracy. It also ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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