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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 50, November 28, 2009

‘There can be No Greater Betrayal or Crime in a Democracy’

Liberhan Commission Condemns ‘Pseudo-Moderates’ Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi

Saturday 28 November 2009


The Liberhan Commission was set-up to probe the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Justice M.S. Liberhan submitted the Commission’s report to the government on June 30, 2009—after 17 years and numerous extensions. The government tabled the report (running into almost 1000 pages) and the 13-page Action Taken Report in both Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2009, a day after The Indian Express carried large parts of the Liberhan report thereby triggering a furore in both the Houses with the BJP leaders, at the receiving end of it, charging the government with deliberately leaking it out to the media. The following are some salient parts of the Liberhan Commission report.

Sequence of events leading to the destruction of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid structure

The single-minded agenda of the RSS and VHP; and the extremely patient and focused manner in which the handful of ideologues and theologians manipulated the masses and turned them into a frenzied mob, capable of acts of the gravest depravity, is unparalleled.

It is established that the events of and leading up to the 6th of December in the birthplace of the virtuous Lord Ram were tainted by a joint conspiratorial enterprise… Lured by the prospect of power or wealth, a rank of leaders emerged within the BJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, etc. who were neither guided by any ideology nor imbued with any dogma nor restrained by any moral trepidation. These leaders saw the Ayodhya issue as their road to success and sped down this highway mindless of the casualties they scattered about. These leaders were the executioners wielding the sword handed to them by the ideologues.

The role played the Chief Minister and Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and by individuals and organisations in connection with the destruction of the RJBM structure

The BJP’s claim that it was carrying out the people’s mandate makes it inexplicable why it had to resort to subterfuge in order to effect the destruction of the disputed structure… Kalyan Singh, his Ministers and his handpicked bureaucrats created manmade and cataclysmic circumstances which could result in no consequences other than the demolition of the disputed structure and broadened the cleavage between the religious communities resulting in massacres all over the country… The parallel government run by the RSS has also been exposed and analysed in my report. ….Paramhans Ramchander Das, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Vamdes, K.S. Sudarshan, H.V. Sheshadri, Lalji Tandon, Kalraj Mishra, Govindacharya and others named in my report formed this complete cartel led by Kalyan Singh and supported by the icons of the movement like Advani, Joshi and Vajpayee.

The RSS, BJP and VHP core have turned the tables—they have redefined secularism and turned the definition on its head to mean the exact opposite of what it has always been held to be and understood. Their version of secularism is neither benign nor tolerant of the ideals enshrined in our Constitution.

The deficiencies in the security measures contributing to the demolition

The State Government did not arrange for a single video camera to record the events which were unfolding for posterity… Even the CCTV cameras, which the State had promised the Central Government would be monitoring every inch of the disputed structure, were either inoperative or their footage has been hidden. In either case, the results are a betrayal of the nation and of history.

By far, the worst sin of omission of the State Government was leaking into the public domain the information that the police personnel had been hobbled and would not react or retaliate under any circumstances… The only non-manageable variable, from the Sangh Parivar’s point of view, was the possible deployment of Central forces in the State, either at the behest of the Central Government or sanctioned by the Supreme Court. This threat was also neutralised by senior and well-respected individuals stating blatant lies on oath before the Supreme Court.

The State had become a willing ally and co-conspirator in the joint common enterprise to announce the revival of a rabid breed of Hindutva, by demolishing the structure they had denounced as a symbol of Islam.

Events leading to the assault on mediapersons at Ayodhya

To frustrate the attempts of future investigations, including efforts by Commissions like this one, the leadership at the spot had evolved a common strategy to deny the world an accurate record of the unfolding events… The first step in this direction was to identify the journalists who were present at the spot. The accreditation of the media was entrusted to their own cadres… Dramatic situations were precipitated to paint the foreign and domestic media with hostile colours and the stage was set to instigate the mobs.

As soon as the pre-programmed assault on the structure commenced, the journalists were subjected to systematic harassment… The reporters were confined to small rooms or molested or otherwise threatened so that their attention was less on the events they were supposed to cover, and more on their very survival… Photojournalists became recipients of especially violent treatment at the hands of the kar sevaks… The attack on the media is in itself an admission by the perpetrators of the events of December 6, 1992 that they were aware of the illegality of their acts.

Standards of culpability

For the purpose of quantifying their culpability, the various persons and organisations named in this report have been divided into three groups.

The first group represents those who bear the primary and greatest responsibility… These people had complete knowledge of the events as were scripted. These individuals and organisations were part of the decision-making process and instrumental in the assault of the structure… Those found guilty of primary responsibility had the means to prevent the assaults, they were the active leaders of the cadres and without their participation, December 6 would not have occurred.

The second group consists of those who bear physical, ideological and intellectual responsibility. These persons were not decision-makers and would not change the course charted by those bearing primary responsibility. Nevertheless, without their sins of omission or commission, the situation would not have deteriorated as much as it did. These included those who portrayed the benign face of the Ayodhya campaign and gave false reassurances to the courts, the people and the nation as a whole. Those who have been put in the second category in these conclusions are referred to as “pseudo-moderates” in contrast to the radicals forming part of the first group.

There are those who bear tertiary responsibility for the situation. These people may or may not have been associated with the Sangh or had any influence over the situation at all. However, it was their sworn and statutory duty to prevent exactly the kind of event which took place around December 6… Their complicity stems from their sins of omission rather than of commission.

Pseudo-moderate elements within the Sangh Parivar

It cannot be assumed even for a moment that L.K.Advani, A. B. Vajpayee or M.M. Joshi did not know of the designs of the Sangh Parivar. These people, who may be called pseudo-moderates, could not have defied the mandate of the Sangh Parivar, more specifically RSS diktat, without having bowed out of public life as leaders of the BJP. The pseudo-moderate leadership of the BJP was as much a tool in the hands of the RSS as any other organisation or entity and these leaders stood to inherit the political success engineered by the RSS.

The BJP was and remains an appendage of the RSS which had the purpose of providing only an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a façade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar. The much repeated and much denied remarks attributed to Govindarcharya who called Vajpayee a mukhota or mask may be more appropriately applied to the BJP’s top leadership at the time collectively. Without leaders like Joshi, Advani and Vajpayee, the RSS might have been able to achieve de-facto clout, but would not have been able to legitimise its hold on the Indian system by translating that clout into political success.

These leaders have violated the trust of the people and have allowed their actions to be dictated not by the voters but by a small group of individuals who have used them to implement agendas unsanctioned by the will of the common person. There can be no greater betrayal or crime in a democracy and this Commission has no hesitation in condemning these pseudo-moderates for their sins of omission.

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