Was there a conspiracy to demolish the disputed structure at Ayodhya by the leaders of the Ayodhya movement or any of them or anyone else? Or was it the result the sudden outburst of the emotions of the thousands of karsevaks who wanted a temple to be built where the disputed structure stood? This question arose when in a matter of hours the disputed structure was demolished by the crowd on December 6, 1992. There were two theories — one it was spontaneous outburst and the other, it was a deeper conspiracy. After years of fact-finding by government and the judiciary, the issue had been virtually settled that there was no conspiracy.
Liberhan had completed recording evidence on January 22, 2003, that is, over six years ago. Thereafter, for six long years, he patiently waits for the ‘crucial records’ from intelligence agencies, does not get it, yet dares to look at the ‘fragmented information’ and ‘misinformation’ produced before him and finally builds up almost an imaginary theory of conspiracy by the leaders of the movement to demolish the structure. See how Liberhan imaginatively reinstates the conspiracy theatre with no fresh evidence and claiming to cite evidence already in the public domain! Read on.
CBI, GOI and HM: “no conspiracy”
When Liberhan says there was a conspiracy to demolish the structure, what evidence he cites to support his conclusion? He actually cites those that are against his theory, with none in favour. He first says that the CBI, which was assisting him, “has not been able to come to any conclusion” on the basis of the facts collected by it. (para 8.19, p22). Liberhan notes: ‘I may observe that they were primarily guided by the CBI inquiry made for prosecution of some of the participants in movement’. What he means is that the CBI chargesheet does not contain any case of conspiracy to demolish the structure against any of the BJP or VHP or RSS leaders. The CBI has merely charged the Ayodhya movement leaders with provocative speeches and inciting communal discord.
See next, how the judiciary has dealt with the conspiracy angle. The trial court at Rae Bareilly dismissed the conspiracy charge against the leaders of the movement in the year 2001. When this issue was taken to the Allahabad High Court, the ‘secular’ Mulayam Singh government in UP filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the demolition of the structure at Ayodhya ‘was done under criminal conspiracy by any specific community or political party is wrong and denied’. The Allahabad High Court upheld the trial court order. That order was challenged in the Supreme Court. In February 2009, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the matter. So legally there is no conspiracy charge against the leaders of the movement.
Third, Liberhan says he has carefully considered the White Paper issued by the Government of India on the Ayodhya events. The White Paper does not even hint at any conspiracy. Instead it says that everything was normal, the karseva was proceeding ‘as per the plan’ of the organisers; but ‘in a sudden development’ the karsevaks broke the police cordon and entered the structure in large numbers and then the demolition took place.
Fourth, just seven days before the government had released the White Paper, S B Chavan, the then home minister, had told the media in clear terms that there was no conspiracy to demolish the structure. But Liberhan turns a blind eye to these crucial facts. First, even as he says he has carefully considered the government’s White Paper, he does not utter a word about its view that the demolition was sudden. Second, he does not refer to S B Chavan’s statement at all. Third, he says that the CBI has confined its view to the prosecution it has launched — in which of course there is allegation of conspiracy to demolish the structure. Fourth he sidesteps the judicial rulings. How does Liberhan seed his the conspiracy theory?
Liberhan: Yes, there is
Despite the government’s White Paper seeing no conspiracy, the CBI concluding there was none, and the then home minister clearly ruling out any, Liberhan suspects and concludes on the basis of the suspicion, that there was indeed a conspiracy. He sees (para 122.4, p725) ‘the seeds of the conspiracy’ sown 1983 in when, according to him, late Gulzari Lal Nanda, veteran Congress leader of 1950s and 1960s, had participated. Closer to December 1992, Liberhan vaguely refers to a report in the Telegraph in two places (in Chapter 4, paras 41.9 and 42.19) which said that on November 2, 1992, VHP, RSS, BJP leaders including Ashok Singhal, V H Dalmia, L K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, K S Sudharshan met and worked out logistics and other details for the karseva. By noting that ‘there was no documentation of what transpired or was decided at the meeting’, Liberhan hints at some secret decision having been taken. Apart from this clinching evidence, he claims circumstantial evidence against them (Chapter 14 para 164.2 and 164.3). That was nothing but his first suspicion that the leaders had the means to prevent the demolition and his next suspicion that they did not and so his further suspicion that they were guilty of conspiring. That is, he suspects Advani and others could have prevented the demolition and on that suspicion, he further suspects since they did not do so, they were part of the conspiracy. But, the Liberhan missile of suspicion does not spare anyone. Before examining further his logic of suspicion to condemn Atal Behari Vajpayee, L K Advani and 66 others, see on what logic he trashes the intelligence agencies and how that gives a clue to the psychology that drives him.
Suspicions as proof
Liberhan says that either the intelligence agencies are guilty of “over-optimism” and “gross failure” or in the alternative they have “withheld crucial records” from the Commission. What does he mean by this? First, the two charges cannot be alternatives to each other. If the agencies are guilty of over-optimism and gross failure, they could not overcome that charge by producing the crucial records. More, why will they hold back records, which will disprove their guilt? So the charge of suppression of the record could only be in addition to that and not an alternative charge. Behind the messy words, his main grouse seems to be that the intelligence agencies would not trust him with their confidential information even at the risk of being censured by him.
Obviously he was upset with them for their couldn’t-care-less approach. But, did he go into why they had claimed privilege for their record? Even under the Freedom of Information Law, the intelligence agency records are not open to public. This binds even a commission of inquiry. But Liberhan does not stop at charging the intelligence agencies with holding back crucial records, but says more. He holds them guilty of over optimism and gross failure. Does it mean that if they had produced the record he would have absolved them of the charge of over-optimism and gross failure? Does he mean that because the records had been withheld he had to charge them with over-optimism and gross failure? With his propensity to suspect all, he suspects them too and would not believe their reasons for withholding records. Once he does not believe them he begins to doubt their motives, to construct theories against them. And finally he indicts them by concluding that the security agencies were over-optimistic in their assessments or guilty of gross failure as otherwise he sees no reason why they should withhold the crucial records from him? Except his suspicion that they must be withholding their records only to protect themselves what evidence he has to charge them of being over optimistic or guilty of gross failure? None. But, for Liberhan, suspicions are sufficient as proof. Starting thus and targeting the intelligence agencies, suspicions as substitute for logic and evidence run through the entire report in Liberhan’s construction of the conspiracy at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.