Friday, December 25, 2009

Vajpayee’s Indictment May Discredit Liberhan Report

Five months after Justice Liberhan presented his report on Babri Masjid Demolition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; it has been tabled in the Parliament along with the Action Taken Report by the government. It is to be seen whether the recommendations of the report are implemented especially when opposition BJP has a habit to reject commissions’ recommendation and the Congress giving into its objection.
Liberhan Commission report on Babri Masjid took 17 years for its completion and five months to reach the Parliament after being handed over to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009. Now, let us see how long it will require getting those indicted by the commission, punished. More probable is that the report will be preserved as a historical document for a researcher.
All know who demolished Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 and why? But in a democratic country like India, there are some legal proceedings to have someone punished. Within ten days of the demolition, the then Congress prime minister P V Narasimha Rao had set up the one-man commission headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the mosque. Three month is the span of time the commission was expected to submit its report within. Extension after extension, as many as 48, and only after 17 years it could be possible. By the time the government had invested around Rs 8 crore for the commission. Yet, there seems no use of all the money spent. Perhaps the fact finding commission could not come up with anything new to people. That the karsevaks were the responsible for demolition and organizations like RSS, BJP, VHP and Shiv Sena etc. had created circumstances leading to the event is well known to all.
According to the latest news, till the magazine going to press, the report will be presented for debate on December 1, and what happens latter will remain to be seen. For now, it has distracted the attention from soaring prices of daily commodities, low price of sugarcane and government’s failure during the Mumbai terror siege.
The Liberhan report, indicts top BJP leaders including L. K. Advani, then U.P. Chief Minister Kalyan Singh (now not in BJP), and Murli Manohar Joshi. However, its indictment of Atal Bihari Vajpayee-who is considered liberal compared to other Sangh Parivar leaders-has invited criticism not only from BJP but also from some others. The former senior counsel of Liberhan commission Anupam Gupta who conducted majority of the examination hearings has said, “I am taken aback and astonished that a person who was never given the opportunity to explain his position may have been indicted.”
The statement of the Congress spokesperson Mr. Abhishek Singhvi in this context may give the BJP and others a chance to term the report biased and thereby reject it. While justifying Vajpayee’s indictment Singhvi said that he cannot escape the charge simply by saying that he did not know about the demolition. “Vajpayee should have changed his associate and political party way back in 1992 to escape the charge.” Did the statement mean that Vajpayee has been accused as he asserted to not alienate himself from BJP and its associate? Apparently, it is so.
It seems that Congress on one hand wants to appease the Muslim community by presenting the facts-though stale-about who was responsible for the demolition and on the other it paves way for BJP and its associates to discard it.
Already having a history of rejecting the Sri Krishna Commission report with no loopholes can BJP, Shiv Sena’s ally in Maharashtra, accept Liberhan report while its authenticity has been suspected by one who worked for the commission and later resigned owing to some differences with justice Liberhan on the way the commission functioned? Anupam Gupta also said that indictment of Vajpayee is a deliberate step meant for shifting focus away from Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani who he said played a key role in the events leading to demolition of the mosque.
Surprisingly, Advani has been categorised under “the pseudo-moderates”-those who gave false assurances to court, people, nation and they were involved in the event as they could not have defied the diktat of the RSS; so, they were not the key players in the event- along with Vajpayee and Joshi. It was his Rath Yatra that had sparked the communal flare which ultimately burnt Babri Masjid to ash.
The 1029-page report makes “the radicals”-ex-RSS chief Sudarshan, Uma Bharti, Govindacharya, Kalyan Singh and S S Vaghela- core responsible for the event as all of them had the complete knowledge of the events and had the means to prevent the assault.
"...December 6, 1992 saw a state of Uttar Pradesh unwilling and unable to uphold the majesty of the law. The ennui flowed from the very office of the chief minister downwards and infected the state's minions down till the bottom,” the report reads.
Rashtriya Swamasevak Sangh, as a whole, is said to be the "author of the movement behind Ayodhya", while 68 individuals of Sangh Parivar have been fixed culpable for "leading the country to the brink of communal discord"
Yet the government’s Action Taken Report does not recommend any action against these 68 persons, in fact, it does not single any of them out. The union law minister Veerappa Moily said the Liberhan Commission was a fact-finding commission and that a follow-up action based on the commission’s conclusion may be expected. The ATR also talks of expediting the cases arising out of the demolition of Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid. Notably, as many as 49 cases against BJP/VHP leaders related to Babri Masjid demolition have been pending in Bareli and Lucknow courts.
The very Liberhan report, nevertheless, has given clean chit to the then Congress government Prime Minister late P. V. Narasimha Rao as it found that centre was crippled by the failure of the intelligence agencies to provide an analysis of the situation. Astonishingly, according to media report Rao had got informed about the demolition of the mosque the protection of which he had assured, after hours.
The report has suggested a “separate, special law providing for exemplary punishment for misuse of religion, caste, etc. for political gains or illicit acquisition of political or other powers.”
Singhvi, the Congress spokesperson, has said, without defining a time, that the government would act on the recommendations of the Liberhan Commission and a supplementary chargesheet may be filed. All the things depend on whether the report manages to get approval of the Parliament; something very difficult. Provided it does, one can merely guess as to how long time it will take filing chargesheet against the culprits and the subsequent execution. Only preparation of the report has taken 17 years. Judicial system in India is too slow. There are the examples that the court issued verdict in a case and by time the accused had died.
With all the top BJP cadres and strategists being accused, the opposition BJP will create every possible obstacle to the approval of the report in the Parliament. There are valid reasons to opine this. What happened with many other commissions’ reports including that of Justice Sri Krishna on Mumbai 1992-93 communal riots may be repeated with the Liberhan report. The immense efforts justice Krishna exerted to find out the culprits of the riots went fruitless; because the Shiv Sena termed the findings as partial and refused to accept it when presented during Shiv Sena-BJP rule in Maharashtra. Though the Congress later came into rule with NCP alliance, nothing but promise to implement the report was the portion of Muslim community. Still Congress utters the same promise and Muslims continue to be made fool.
If the culprits go unpunished, the Rs 8 crore spent on the commission will be useless. Nothing different can be expected given the ultimate result of the previous commissions’ report.
So far, the commissions have served mere a lollypop to Muslims. They are very effective tool to befool the community whenever it faces any riots or backwardness. The Muslim community would have been the most prosperous and fearless one in India had the recommendations of a number of commissions were implemented fairly. There is need to enact a law making the commissions useful. Whatever a person recommends after a thorough study of a matter has importance and valid reasons for being supported.

By: Staff Writer

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