Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao is back in the news with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board accusing him of being equally responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. The board says that Rao could never be forgiven for the demolition of the mosque.
Dr S Q R Ilyas, convener, Committee on Babri Masjid of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, told rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa about Rao's role and also on what should be done to put to rest the entire controversy.
What role, according to you, did Narasimha Rao play in the demolition of the Babri Masjid?
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is of the opinion that without the tactical help of people in the Union government at that point of time, the demolition would have not been possible at all. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister and had all the information regarding the demolition, despite which he did nothing to stop it.
Is it something that you just realised or did you know it all along that the ruling government was aware of this plot?
No, it is not something that we have just realised. In fact, we had known this all along. A couple of days before the demolition of the Babri Masjid, we had even met with Rao and expressed our fears to him regarding the same.
What did he say then?
He assured us that nothing would happen and there was nothing for us to worry.
It could have been a failure of the intelligence also. Why blame Rao alone for this?
I am not blaming him alone. There was no failure of intelligence. Rao had all information through the Intelligence Bureau. This fact has been indicated by the Liberhan Commission report too. I can say for a fact that the Union government then was equally responsible for this incident. Being the head of the state, Rao ignored the warnings. He was in a position to stop the act, but sadly that did not happen.
Do you think that Rao had intentionally not acted despite having specific warnings?
I would not say it was intentional. In fact at the moment I cannot say that he had not acted intentionally. However, it is on record that he did not act despite having all information and also absolute control over the situation.
So do you think that the Union government at that time was the main culprit?
No I don't think so. We still maintain that it was the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was the main culprit.
What about Atal Bihari Vajpayee?
Vajpayee is also responsible for this incident. He was heading the BJP at that time. However, we would like to point out that there has been a flaw in the Liberhan Commission report. Despite naming him, he has not been issued with a notice. We demand that a notice be issued to him and he be called on to explain what he thought of the situation at that point of time.
What is the demand of the board at this moment?
The board has always and will continue to demand that Section 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code (Conspiracy) be included in the chargesheet against those involved in the incident. We demand that those responsible for this incident, and who continue to walk free, be brought to book.
In this case there is so much emphasis on the courts, which are seized off the matter. Why is that none of you are even bringing the judiciary into this issue?
We demand that the cases against the accused be expedited in the various courts that are hearing the matter. The very fact that despite so many years these persons walk about freely, is an indication that the legal system is not working properly.
What everyone tends to forget is the core issue. Bringing these persons to justice alone will not solve the problem. Do you agree with this?
Yes I do. The core issue is the title suit which is still pending before the Allahabad high court. Once this issue is resolved, only then there will be a solution to the problem.
What is the progress of the case?
One of the judges in the bench has been transferred and the hearings have been postponed after that. There needs to be a day-to-day hearing of the matter so that the matter is closed as soon as possible. A new bench needs to be constituted immediately, and despite several demands, it has not been done as yet. Prior to one of the judges on the bench getting transferred, we were hopeful that that the matter would have ended soon.
What do you expect from the BJP leadership in such a situation?
The BJP has no role to play now. It is the Union government which should act upon the report, and also ensure that the case is settled immediately. Everything depends on how the Union government deals with the matter, and even the state government has no role to play in this anymore.
When do you think this entire issue will end?
The day the people responsible for the shameful act of demolishing Babri Masjid are punished and the matter pertaining to the title suit is disposed off.