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Date set for Advani trial

Lucknow, April 1: After more than a decade of legal wrangling, the stage is finally set for deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advaniís trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

A special court in Rae Bareli yesterday issued summons to Advani, Union human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, former minister Uma Bharti and five others to appear before it on April 16.

Intelligence and security agencies today inspected the premises of the special court. Officials refused to discuss the arrangements but hinted that the court might be shifted to a safer place in view of the high-security status of the accused.

Though there is no confirmation whether Advani, Joshi and the others will appear in person or seek permission to be represented by their legal representatives, the home secretary today discussed security arrangements for the trial with senior police officials.

ďWe have no intimation from the central government about the programme of the deputy Prime Minister and other VVIPs. But in view of the Rae Bareli special courtís summons, we have decided to tighten security in and around the court premises,Ē a home department official said.

VHP chief Ashok Singhal, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar, VHP vice-president Vishnu Hari Dalmia, senior VHP leader Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Rithambara have also been summoned for trial.

The accused have been charged with making inflammatory speeches inciting lakhs of kar sevaks gathered in Ayodhya to demolish the disputed shrine on December 6, 1992.

The case was being heard in a special court in Lucknow till Allahabad High Court struck down the government notification transferring the case from Rae Bareli special court to Lucknow court in February 2001.

Following the high courtís verdict, the Lucknow special court had discharged Advani and 20 others in May 2001 and the case was held up till recently because the Uttar Pradesh government refused to issue a fresh notification to resume trial. The Supreme Court paved way for resumption of the case in November. The apex court said the CBI could go ahead with the trial in Rae Bareli, from where the case had been shifted to Lucknow in November 1993.

As a litigant again moved the apex court to review its November decision, the CBI went to the Lucknow special court for shifting of all papers related to the case to the Rae Bareli special court, which had been revived by the Mayavati government through a court notification. On the CBIís plea, the Lucknow special court last month ordered shifting of the case file to Rae Bareli special court.

The case records were shifted to Rae Bareli on March 21 and on March 29, the CBI moved the Rae Bareli special court to resume the trial.

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