Lucknow, June 7: Stunning political circles and stirring cries for the deputy Prime Minister’s scalp, five of the 49 accused in the Babri demolition today alleged L.K. Advani and senior BJP and VHP leaders had instigated them to pull down the mosque in December 1992.
The five — Vinod Vatsa, Santosh, R.C. Khatri, Amar Nath Goyal and R.. Das — made the statement while speaking to reporters outside the special CBI court in Lucknow trying one of the two Ayodhya cases.
“We have realised that the prosecution is targeting us while sparing influential leaders like Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. The fact is that the instigation for demolition of the mosque had come from these leaders,” the five said.
R.. Das, the priest of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple inside the then Babri Masjid, said they had decided to come out with the “truth” because the Centre appeared to be protecting Advani and the others. Some time ago, their cases had been shifted to a special court in Rae Bareli to be started afresh.
The cases against the other accused are being heard by the special court in Lucknow, which had tried the case against Advani, too, till Allahabad High Court quashed an Uttar Pradesh government notification two years ago. The five alleged that the leaders had used clout to get their cases shifted and demanded that all accused be treated on a par.
Reacting to the first “direct evidence” of the alleged complicity of Advani and others, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said as the accused had themselves made the charge, the President should immediately dismiss Advani and Joshi from the Union government.
But BJP leaders claimed the statement was “tutored” and made at the instance of the party’s political adversaries. They said the accused had neither made the statement under oath before the court nor submitted an affidavit.
“In any case, their evidence has no value in law since the case against Advani and others is pending in the Rae Bareli special court,” state BJP spokesman Hriday Nath Dixit said.
A senior lawyer said despite the debate on the legal value of the allegation, the statement was bound to pressure the CBI to proceed against Advani and the others with greater vigour.
Last Saturday, the CBI had filed a supplementary chargesheet against Advani and eight others in the Rae Bareli court. The next hearing has been fixed for June 15.
None of the accused appeared before the court at its last three hearings. The court exempt them for not showing up so far but has refused their request for permanent exemption.
The Congress, too, has revived its demand for the resignations of Advani and Joshi, adds our correspondent from Delhi.
“Advani and Joshi should immediately resign from the Union council of ministers as the kar sevaks have confirmed their complicity in the conspiracy to demolish Babri masjid,” Congress spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters.
Sharma said it was up to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to sack his deputy and Joshi if they did not quit on their own.
“It would be better if they resign on their own subscribing to moral standards in public life, or the Prime Minister should call for their resignation to uphold the prestige of the government,” Sharma said.
The Congress has consistently held that the presence of accused leaders in the government is inconsistent with political morality.