What has the country gained from the marathon proceedings of the Liberhan Commission which went on for 17 years? In the concluding part the Report has touched certain aspects of principles and given a long discourse on secularism.
It is worth recalling that the Liberhan Commission was constituted on December 16, 1992 and was required to submit its report within three months. Had the report come at the right time within the stipulated period, people would have benefited from the reaction of the then Narasimha Rao government.
From a perusal of the Report it transpires that the Commission digressed from the task assigned to it and concentrated more on extraneous matters. The Report has lost its relevance and utility after 17 years. Yet, our legal experts say that the Report is a fact-finding document. But where are the facts in the Report? It is full of opinions, speculations and recommendations. Can anybody sift the facts from the Report?
Has the Commission gone into all the factual aspects in its quest to touch the bottom of the truth? Had it done so, it could not have afforded to ignore what appeared in the media at that time. In September 1997 late Shri KR Malkani had said that ISI agents had infiltrated among the kar sevaks and pulled down the disputed structure. Did the Commission summon Shri Malkani to know his version?
In the terms of reference, the Commission had been asked to go into the circumstances that led to the demolition of the disputed structure. In the Report, the Commission has concentrated less on this aspect and whiled away its years in caring for other extraneous matters with which it was concerned the least. Instead of coming out with facts, the Commission has turned the Report into a treatise of sermons. That is why the conclusions drawn in the Report appear to be wrong and far from the truth.
Had the Report come out within three months, it would not have cost the nation more than 5-7 lakh. But in 17 years the cost went up to eight crore. As a result the nation has been presented with a document that is partial, politically motivated and written with pre-meditated notions.
What was the role played by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee? If he was involved in any way, why was he not called by the Commission to present his case? In the Commission of Inquiries Act 1952 (Part 8 P), it has been clearly provided that no person can be found guilty by a Commission who is not present in the proceedings. Then how did Atalji’s name figure 22 times in the Report? Can it be called right?
On the other hand, persons like Shahabuddin, who were in the forefront of the disputed structure movement, have not been found guilty of vitiating the communal harmony in the country. It is worth recalling that they were the persons who had given a call for boycott of the Republic Day celebrations in 1987. Why is the Commission silent on the activities of such people?
The Report gets exposed on its own when it exonerates the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao of his involvement in any manner. It lets him off with just describing him indulging in day-dreaming. Not only that, no arm of the Central government at that time has been found guilty or charged with dereliction of duty. It is unbelievable that such a major incident, like demolition of the disputed structure, should take place and the Central government should not get even a smell of it. It is funny that the Commission does not stumble against involvement of the then Government at the Centre in any way.
Everybody, except the Liberhan Commission, knows that the Congress Party had held Shri Narasimha Rao guilty in the matter and as a punishment denied him the party nomination for fighting Lok Sabha elections in 1998. Further, the Congress Party has two times sought apology for the disputed structure having been brought down – first the then Congress President Shri Sita Ram Kesri and later Smt. Sonia Gandhi. But, surprisingly, Liberhan Commission is silent on the role of Shri Narasimha Rao and the Congress Party.
The Report says that after the demolition of the disputed structure, the demonstrators let loose a reign of loot and murder. More than 20 persons belonging to a single community lost their life. But why were they cremated secretly and in haste? What was their identity and to which country did they belonged? Were they not the terrorists who had come from abroad? Police arrested 35 persons on the suspicion of organising a riot but all of them were later released in the absence of any proof. Why was TADA not invoked in their case?
The whole country knows that on August 14, 1988 the High Court had declared as undisputed Plot No. 586 adjacent to the land. After this verdict on August 17 an agreement was signed between the then Home Minister Shri Buta Singh and VHP leader Shri Vinay Katiyar. On November 7 the High Court stuck to its decision (but Kar Seva did took place in November). Next day the then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi launched Congress Party’s election campaign from Faizabad, the town adjoining Ayodhya and declared ushering Ram Rajya as party’s goal. Yet the Commission has felt shy of mentioning the names of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Shri Buta Singh and Shri PV Narasimha Rao in its Report. The interesting part is that although the Commission has given various epithets to describe the role of various individuals, yet it has failed to nail the evidence against them. What type of inquiry is it?
To understand the Report in two lines, the Commission only says that politics and religion should never be mingled under any circumstances and a provision for deterrent punishment should be made for people doing so to get political power.
(The writer is the BJP National Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP)