The Ayodhya dispute is the result of a collapse of both political and administrative wisdom, according to Dr Surendra K Pachauri, who served as the secretary of the Liberhan Ayodhya Commission of Inquiry for 17 long years.
The commission was entrusted with the task of understanding the causes behind the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
Giving a ringside view of the events that led to the incident, Dr Pachauri’s book, Ayodhya---Debacle, Divide, and Dividend, peeks into the past and compares the demolition to the storming of the Bastille in 1789 in Paris.
The book also delves into the manner in which efforts were made to avert the demolition and how all efforts failed. The failure of institutions and safeguards is also a focus in his book.
The book looks at the various levels of bureaucracy, from the district level up. “Feelings and sentiments of national pride dormant for long were stoked to create a situation that became ... irreversible,” writes Pachauri.
Interacting with City Express, the seasoned administrator who was part of the country’s longest-running inquiry commission, said the toughest part of his job had been to maintain confidentiality. “The examination of the hundreds of witnesses was a very challenging, sensitive and difficult task,” he said.
While none of those openly involved in the demolition were held accountable, Pachauri said it was up to the courts to decide who should be held guilty. “The conspiracy case is still pending in the courts. Regarding the planning for the demolition, we have no direct evidence, but there are indirect references,” he said.
On the allegation that the commission’s report was biased and rhetorical, he said, “That is not true. All witnesses, high profile or otherwise, were cross-examined in open court and the media was always present.”
A retired IAS officer of 1968 AP cadre, Dr S K Pachauri has served in the union home ministry and many commissions of inquiry. He is experienced in arbitration. He is visiting faculty at many institutions and universities in India and the US. He has authored three books: The impact of Environmental Laws on Industry (2006), Trends and Studies in Colonial History of India (2007) and the latest, Ayodhya- Debacle, Divide, and Dividend (2014).