Indian probe blames Hindu nationalist leaders for attack on mosque that sparked deadly riots

By Ravi Nessman, AP
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

India probe blames mosque attack on Hindu leaders

NEW DELHI — A government investigation released Tuesday reportedly implicated dozens of Hindu nationalist politicians — including a former prime minister — in the 1992 demolition of a mosque that sparked deadly communal riots.

The attack by Hindu mobs on the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, 350 miles (550 kilometers) east of New Delhi, set off nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people in the largest explosion of Hindu-Muslim tension in the country in decades.

Hindu nationalist leaders claim the mosque was built by Mogul rulers at the site of a Hindu temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.

The violence was a black mark on India’s secular tradition and exposed simmering religious tensions in the country.

A copy of the report, released by NDTV television, listed 68 Hindu nationalist politicians, bureaucrats and other officials as being culpable in the violence. Among those: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who later became prime minister, and Lal Krishna Advani, another leader from the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

The nearly 1,000-page investigation contradicted claims by nationalist leaders that the mosque demolition was a spontaneous eruption by angry Hindu activists.

“The demolition was carried out with great painstaking preparation and preplanning,” the report said.

The commission, headed by former judge M.S. Liberhan, painted a grim portrait of official complicity in the Dec. 6, 1992 attack on the mosque. It accused the Hindu nationalist government of the state of Uttar Pradesh of encouraging tens of thousands of militant Hindus to converge on the mosque compound in the days before the attack.

The state then refused to send in police reinforcements to protect the mosque, and security officials already there were told not to use force against the gathering mob, the report said.

Militants faced little resistance when they razed the 16th-century structure with spades, crowbars and their bare hands.

Security officials “could have at least attempted to stem the tide of communalism and the rape of democracy. But they chose to remain deaf, dumb and blind throughout,” the report said.

The government gave parliament the long-delayed report Tuesday. But with many lawmakers from nationalist opposition parties protesting the investigation, officials appeared to pull back from plans to make it publicly available.

The report, clogged in the morass of Indian bureaucracy, has taken so long to produce that many of those accused of stoking the violence have since died.

A BJP spokesman, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, declined to comment on the report before party officials had a chance to examine it, he said.

Associated Press reporter Ashok Sharma contributed to this report.

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