AN Indian court on Wednesday(30) acquitted all the 32 accused in the Babri mosque demolition case, including ruling party veterans L K Advani and MM Joshi, 28 years ago.
A special CBI court in Lucknow passed the verdict citing a lack of evidence.
The demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya happened on December 6, 1992.
The demolition sparked nationwide riots that killed more than 3,000 people in a decades-long dispute that has fuelled Hindu-Muslim tension, as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for Hindu renaissance helped bring it to power.
Handing down its verdict after a lengthy legal battle, the court said there was not enough evidence to directly tie any of the accused to the violence, defence lawyer Manish Kumar Tripathi said.
Former deputy prime minister Advani, who was then BJP chief, was among 32 people accused of criminal conspiracy and inciting a mob to tear down the 16th-century Babri mosque.
The other key accused are Uma Bharti, former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure the structure was pulled down, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara.
The CBI produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 16 had died during the trial.
The mosque stood on a site revered by devout Hindus as the birthplace of the god-king Ram.
The court pinned the blame on miscreants mingled among the crowd instead, adding that leaders such as Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, another former cabinet minister, had tried to keep the mob from turning violent.
Last month, prime minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a Hindu temple to be built at the site, after the supreme court paved the way last year, in a decision that also ordered land to be allotted further away for a mosque.
Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the temple, is also among the accused.
The court had ignored all the evidence in Wednesday’s case, said Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, adding that it planned to appeal to the high court against the decision.
“We will seek remedy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police said they will keep a strict vigil in the national capital in view of the judgement.
“We will keep a watch on the security aspect across the city,” a senior police officer said.