Men, movement, nation

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 1 2009, 03:59am hrs
PV Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister

Ayodhya 6 December 1992 was released in 2006 after the death of Rao, Indias first PM to head a single-party minority government and one reputed to speak at least six languages fluently. But his felicity with language could not help him explain his actions on the Babri Mosque issue. In his book, Rao maintains that his hands were bound by the Constitution and he could not have dismissed the BJP state government. He says he was misled by the Kalyan Singh government but his critics say the intelligence was either lax or ignored. Most importantly, the National Integration Council meeting held on November 23, 1992, unanimously approved a four-line resolution moved by CPMs HKS Surjeet, to extend its whole-hearted support and cooperation in whatever steps the PM considers essential in upholding the Constitution and the rule of law and in implementing the Court orders. This, his critics say, was ignored and he allowed the mosque to be demolished. The Liberhan Report, however, despite examining him twice, does not hold him responsible.

SB Chavan, home minister

Shankarrao Bhaurao Chavan has served twice as CM of Maharashtra but is best known as the home minister at the Centre when the Babri Masjid was demolished. The most sensational quote of the time was what he gave to now-MP Rajiv Shukla on his TV show when he said that, on finding out about the trouble in Ayodhya that morning, I went to the PMs house. He was watching TV. I too started watching, and in that time, the demolition was complete.

Madhav Godbole, home secretary

Pune-based Madhav Godbole was the good chap of the pack, say his contemporaries and juniors. Godbole submitted his resignation in March 1993, shortly after the blasts that rocked Mumbai. He went onto write the first of his many books, Unfinished Innings, where he spoke of the great damage to India, both, when the mosque was brought down in 1992 and when the bombs went off in 1993. Indicating a clear division in the Rao government of the approach to the Babri issue vis-a-vis the handling of the Kalyan Singh government, he admitted,

We had prepared a contingency plan in the Home Ministry and we had prepared reports to persuade the government to dismiss the UP government.

SVM Tripathi, DGP, UP

A 1961 batch IPS officer, Tripathi became UPs DGP in 1991. As DGP, it was his responsibility to brief the DIG and the SSP on how to deal with the 5 lakh kar sevaks assembled in Ayodhya by the evening of December 5. But the DGP Headquarters issued no specific instructions when the first group of about 150 kar sevaks reached the top of the Babri tomb and no efforts were made to bring them down from the domes. In his defence, Tripathi says,To fire on lakhs of people was not feasible. But I do regret that the demolition took place during my tenure.

AK Saran, inspector general, Lucknow zone

A 1967 batch IPS officer who retired in 2002, Saran was supposed to be present in Faizabad, leading the force, but he is said to have done little. The Liberhan Commission Report says: It was well known and an open secret that Saran was close to the BJP leadership and was pliable even to the local leadership.

Uma Shanker Bajpai, DIG, Faizabad

Bajpai, who retired in 1995, was supposed to ensure heavy police deployment but he was not at the spot and is said to have made no efforts to mobilise the police force and only focussed on ensuring the safety of the BJP leaders.

DB Rai, SSP, Faizabad

Said to be close to senior politicians in the state, the Liberhan Report says, he was even more strongly devoted to the BJP (than Saran) and the Hindu Maha Sabha which was anti-Muslim.

Akhilesh Mehrotra, SP, Faizabad

The Liberhan Report says of Mehrotra that,he did not hesitate to coin and put forward incredible, blatantly unbelievable stories like, that there was a firing from the house of a Muslim on the 6th of December.

Kalyan Singh, chief minister, UP

Though the Supreme Court had allowed token kar seva in front of the disputed structure, Singh was supposed to take immediate measures to limit the crowd at Ayodhya and to rush central paramilitary forces. Singh, however, directed against the deployment of central forcesthey finally reached 36 hours after the mosque was demolished. According to the Liberhan Report, Kalyan Singh maintained a studied silence even at the height of the crisis in December 1992 and refused to allow even a single measure which might impede the Ayodhya campaign or prevent the assault on the disputed structures... Hours after the mosque was demolished, Singh submitted his resignation. An hour later the Centre dismissed his government and imposed Presidents Rule.