Over the last few years, there have been some massive developments when it comes to the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute. While the debate seems to have been settled once and for all with construction of a Ram temple commencing last month, the legal case over the demolition continues to loom.
On Wednesday, Judge S K Yadav in Lucknow asked all 32 accused to remain present on September 30, when a special court will deliver judgment in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Incidentally, several BJP veterans and former ministers also stand accused of involvement in razing the mosque in 1992. The accused include former deputy prime minister L K Advani, former Union ministers M M Joshi and Uma Bharti, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara.
Below, we've put down the timeline of events, from demolition day to the present. While the mosque is believed to have been constructed in 1528, and there had been other events along with way (such as idols of Ram Lalla being placed under a central dome outside the disputed structure in 1949), our timeline begins on the day angry kar sevaks pulled down the structure. They maintain that it was built during the time of Babur at the the spot which marked the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Take a look.
December 6, 1992: The mosque in Ayodhya was pulled down by kar sevaks. Soon after this, two FIRs were registered over the incident. While one was against the thousands of unnamed kar sevaks who had allegedly indulged in robbery as well as defiling a place of worship and promoting enmity. The second was against eight political leaders, including the BJP veterans mentioned above. As per the FIR, they had given hate speeches.
December 16, 1992: Around two weeks after the mosque was pulled down, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao appointed retired High Court Judge MS Liberhan to look into the case. While the Commission was originally mandated to submit its report within three months, it took 48 extensions before tabling its report.
October 5, 1993: CBI files consolidated chargesheet.
October 8, 1993: UP government issues a notification stating that the two FIRs would be tried together.
2001: Accused individuals challenge order before Allahabad High Court citing a lapse on the part of the Uttar Pradesh government. As the CBI plea to fix the lapse went unheeded by the UP government, the accused eventually won the case to have the charges of criminal conspiracy dropped. The case was then tried separately in Raebareli.
2003: The CBI files a supplementary charge against the eight accused in one of the FIRs. Advani discharged owing to a lack of evidence.
2005: Allahabad HC sets aside order of Raebareli court, decreeing that Advani and the others would stand trial, but without criminal conspiracy charges. The Raebareli court also framed charges in this year.
2007: First witnesses testify in the case.
June 30, 2009: The Liberhan Commission submitted its report before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
November 24, 2009: Liberhan Report tabled in Parliament by Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
2010: Allahabad HC upholds earlier lower court order that stated that the two cases based on the two FIRs would be tried separately.
March, 20, 2012: After approaching the Supreme Court in 2011, the CBI had filed an affidavit the next year, again seeking a common trial for all the cases.
2015: The Supreme Court issues a notice to senior BJP leaders seeking a response to the CBI's plea that criminal conspiracy charges not be dropped. This included LK Advani, Uma Bharati, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kalyan Singh.
April 19, 2017: Supreme Court says BJP stalwarts Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti would be prosecuted for serious offence of criminal conspiracy in the case and orders day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years, that is April 19, 2019. All the cases were also clubbed together.
July 2019: Deadline extended by nine months, and Supreme Court extends the tenure of a judge on the case.
July 24, 2020: BJP veteran L K Advani records his statement before the court through video conferencing, denying any involvement in the conspiracy to demolish the mosque. He pleaded that he was unnecessarily dragged in the case, claiming that the investigation was conducted under political pressure and the charge sheet was based on fabricated evidence.
August 22, 2020: Supreme Court extends the deadline for completion of trial by a month.
September 1, 2020: The final arguments by the defence and the prosecution were heard, and then the judge began writing the verdict.
September 30, 2020: All the 32 accused in the Babri mosque demolition case, including BJP veterans L K Advani and MM Joshi, were on Wednesday acquitted by a special CBI court in Lucknow. The court said there was no conclusive proof against the accused.
The 32 accused persons include former deputy prime minister Advani, former Union minister Joshi and Uma Bharti, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure the structure was pulled down, besides Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara.
(With inputs from PTI)