| Shiv Sainiks march in Jabalpur on the 10th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition. (AFP)
Lucknow, Dec. 7: “It’s politics, not justice,” says D.B. Rai, the policeman who was supposed to protect the disputed Ayodhya shrine on December 6, 1992, but finds himself in the dock as an accused charged with its demolition.
The former Faizabad police chief, who later joined the BJP to become an MP, is now a disenchanted and embittered man. “Not only (LK) Advani, (MM) Joshi and the others charged by the CBI for the demolition of Babri Masjid, but even Atal Bihari Vajpayee is equally guilty,” he says.
Vajpayee was present at the meeting of Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others held at the residence of the then chief minister Kalyan Singh on evening of December 5, he said.
“Vajpayee returned to Delhi while Advani and the others proceeded to Ayodhya. If a conspiracy was hatched there, Vajpayee was privy to the plan,” he maintains.
Rai thinks it’s not fair that while Advani and the other bigwigs have been discharged by the Lucknow special court and are waiting for the CBI to charge them afresh in the Rae Bareli special court, he and 25 others are having to face the music.
“(The) CBI has deliberately left lacunae in the case whereby all political leaders concerned have been let off,” Rai says. He is also unhappy that some leaders and officers, who were equally involved in the conspiracy to demolish the mosque, have been cited as witnesses of the prosecution.
Apart from Rai, the then Faizabad district magistrate, R.N. Shrivastava, and 24 others are the only accused left facing the demolition trial in the Lucknow court after the high court held in 2001 that the Lucknow court had no jurisdiction to try case no. 198 against Advani’s group of eight due to a defect in the Uttar Pradesh government’s notification.
Following the quashing of the notification, the Lucknow special court has not only discharged Advani’s group of eight, but 13 others — including Shiva Sena chief Bal Thackeray, Kalyan Singh and Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chairman Ramchandra Paramhans — not named in case no. 198.
The Supreme Court has now cleared the decks for the trial of Advani’s group of eight in a Rae Bareli special court, which has been reactivated through a high court notification on September 28. But it is unclear if the CBI can proceed against Thackeray, Kalyan Singh and the 11 others not named in case no. 198.
Rai and the other remaining accused have now moved the high court, pleading that the trial against him and others amounted to arbitrary discrimination. Their trial is now held up pending the court’s verdict.
Though he claims to have been unjustly implicated in the demolition case, the ex-policeman maintains that he is still a strong votary of construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site and accuses the BJP and VHP of “deliberately avoiding” its construction.
“If they really wanted to erect the Ram temple, they could have done so shortly after the demolition on December 6, 1992,” Rai says. “They are only playing politics in the name of Ram.”
A pre-fabricated marble model of the temple, kept in the palace of the erstwhile ruler of Ayodhya, was offered to the VHP for installation on the debris of the razed mosque, he said. “But the VHP and BJP leaders decided to quietly slip out of Ayodhya on the very evening of the demolition.”
“We have waited for 10 years, but nothing has been done for the construction of the Ram temple. I will start a people’s movement to expose the BJP and VHP,” the policeman-turned- politician threatens.