Liberhan’s non-liberating masterpiece
Khatawar samjhegi duniya tujhe
Ab itni bhi safayi na de
(Your guilt may become apparent, if you try to prove your innocence so much…)As a Muslim, I have always believed that there are two sorts of people responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992: those who acted and those who did not (to prevent it).
We did not need a learned judge, 17 years and Rs 8 crores to tell us that the demolition was not a spur-of-the-moment act but a “tailor-made exercise” resulting from a well-planned conspiracy.
Therefore, I do not make much of the Liberhan Commission holding the far-right Sangh Parivar and allied forces responsible for pulling down the mosque. This can only be news to someone foolish enough to be thinking all these years that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence was responsible.
The Liberhan Commission’s complete exoneration of the then Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, is shocking. Its reasons for not indicting Rao are weak and obvious enough to make Rao’s guilt clear. The majority of Congress leaders of that time were themselves nonplussed by Rao’s inaction because, like Muslims, they had full faith in Rao, the prime minister.
Soon after the Babri Masjid was pulled down, a delegation of Muslim leaders called on Rao at his official home. Rao’s demeanor was calm, his cheeks buried in the cup of his palms and eyelids shut. He simply sat through, without the slightest compunction, as member after member spoke out.
When his turn came, the last speaker, Dr. Manzoor Alam of the All-India Milli Council, stood up to say something unpalatable to the prime minister. He said, had the real Chanakya — the legendary political pundit to whom Rao is often compared — been alive, he would have committed suicide on seeing Rao’s exemplary tact. That was the only time when Rao opened his eyes.
The reasons for not indicting Rao are familiar: law and order is a state subject and Rao was unable to act without the Governor’s advice. All of this is so disgusting. Liberhan has given a prevaricated defence. It is well known that in our kind of parliamentary democracy, Governors seldom turn down the Centre’s word because they usually owe allegiance to the ruling party at the Centre.
All the Prime Minister’s Office needed to tell the then Governor was ask for a cablegram advice to dismiss the Uttar Pradesh government before it was too late.
Justice Liberhan report fails to pinpoint the failure of the central government of that time to take appropriate action to prevent the demolition. It also failed to probe BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s role. Worse, it made stray remarks on Vajpayee as being “culpable” without summoning him. This is illegal and against the very provisions of the Commission of Inquiries Act. A judge ought to have known this.
Justice Liberhan feels Vajpayee was one of those responsible for taking the country to the brink of communal discord, as he states in his report. So he owes an answer on why he did not summon Vajpayee, in spite of the appropriate powers at his disposal.
A speech of Vajpayee, addressing the kar sevaks in Ayodhya, was enough to summon him, wherein, the former prime minister had said: “These stones are sharp. No one can sit on them. The ground has to be leveled.” Vajpayee’s apologists point to the levity of the statement that had sparked peals of laughter. Apparently, the place where the rally was being held was uneven. However, there is no missing the woods for the trees. And Vajpayee is no Charlie Chaplin, as Outlook editor Vinod Mehta put it on a television debate.
In spite of repeated requests by senior political leaders both within the Congress and in the secular opposition of that time and the unanimous resolution of the National Integration Council, asking Rao to take all measures to protect the Babri Masjid, Rao hesitated in the face of the communal onslaught. By giving a virtual clean chit to the then central government, Liberhan has laid himself open to the charge of a political bias.
The Liberhan Commission report makes a clear and sharp indictment of the entire RSS and the BJP brass and other constituents of the Sangh Parivar. The report has knocked down the defence of the BJP that it was a spontaneous movement which spun out of control.
You can surely vandalize a sturdy structure in a fit of rage; you cannot completely bring it down, unless you are prepared, with the right plan, right men and right implements. The Liberhan report shows the utter disregard for the Constitution by the BJP and the sangh parivar.
Instead of telling us only about the well-known role of an Advani or a Joshi, Justice Liberhan ought to have told us stuff like whether the Uttar Pradesh Governor was responsible in any way.
It is only fair that the Governor’s role should have been probed. If Rao escaped simply because he could not have acted without the Governor’s advice, then is the then Governor Prof. B. Satyanarayana Reddy guilty of inaction?
Who were the actual plotters of the demolition? We still do not know.
The Action Taken Report placed by the Centre on the basis of some of the Commission’s recommendations is inadequate. It is the responsibility of the current government to see that those indicted do not go scot-free as in the case of the Sri Krishna Commission report.
Now that Justice Liberhan has finally revealed to us all those responsible, cases against them should be expedited in a time-bound manner and build up in a way that does not allow them to escape through legal loopholes.
It is not my goal to see a mosque being rebuilt. Regardless of whether a mosque or a Ram temple is built, it is important for the guilty to be punished simply because the law was broken in the most audacious manner, people were slaughtered in riots that followed and the country’s courts were taken for a ride. It was one act of impunity to break this country up.