Lucknow, May 30: The special CBI court today fixed charges of criminal conspiracy against veteran BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, along with Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti. Rejecting their discharge application, the bench said the trio qualify to be prosecuted on charges of criminal conspiracy related to the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The trial against Advani and others is slated to be concluded within two years, as per the orders of Supreme Court. The court’s decision today came as a setback for the 89-year-old Advani. This was the second instance when the BJP patriarch appeared before a court of law in relation to his alleged role in the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

Here are 10 major updates related to the story:

  • Advani, Joshi and Bharti were granted bail by the court, after conspiracy charges were fixed against them. The accused leaders had to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000.
  • The court also rapped other accused leaders of BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who failed to make personal appearance before the bench. Special CBI judge SK Yadav said the adjournment notice by their counsel would not be “entertained” hence forth.
  • The leaders who have been asked to be present at the next hearing include: BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and firebrand Hindutva preacher Sadhvi Ritambara.
  • Reacting to the fixation of conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi and Bharti, Katiyar said, “There was no conspiracy on our behalf. Whatever happened was spontaneous.”
  • Earlier in the hearing, the counsel of Advani and others submitted discharge application before the court. The plea was rejected by the bench.
  • The BJP leadership backed its senior leaders following the court’s order. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “We know our leaders are innocent. I would not comment against the court, but I believe the conclusion of trial would be in our favour.”
  • The criminal conspiracy charges against Advani and others were levelled in 1993, a year after the demolition of Babri mosque. The charges were dropped by CBI’s special court in 2001, distinguishing the role of the senior BJP leaders and kar sevaks. The Rae court, instead tried Advani and others separately under sections 153A (promoting enmity), 153B (creating public unrest) and 505 (hate speech) of the IPC.
  • The 2001 decision of CBI court was endorsed by Allahabad High Court in 2010. However, the Supreme Court, upon hearing a plea in the matter, overturned the Allahabad HC’s decision in April 2017, ordering the CBI special court in Lucknow to restore the charges against Advani and others. The apex judicial body has also instructed the CBI court to conclude hearing in the case within two years.
  •  The Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992 by a frenzied mob of kar sevaks. The demolition of mosque was preceded by a nationwide rath yatra by Advani, seeking mass support for the movement for temple construction. Over 2,000 people were killed in communal riots which erupted following the Babri Masjid demolition.

Earlier in the day, a defiant Bharti said the temple agitation of 1992 should not be considered as a criminal event. “Why should I consider myself as an accused. There was no conspiracy. It was an open movement, similar to the agitation against Emergency?”

Her views were supported by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who described the Ayodhya agitation as a pious movement. While speaking to reporters today, the Unnao MP said, “No power in the world can stop the construction of Ram temple there (in Ayodhya).”