Babri back in spotlight; Liberhan report to be tabled, says PC

Seventeen years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Liberhan report will be tabled in Parliament, Home Minister Chidambaram promised.

Updated: Nov 23, 2009, 16:22 PM IST

New Delhi: Seventeen years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry will be tabled in Parliament, Home Minister P Chidambaram promised Monday as a political storm engulfed both houses following reports that the probe had indicted BJP leaders, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.

According to a report published in a newspaper, the Liberhan Commission had indicted the former prime minister and his deputy besides senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi. This was followed up by a news that said it had access to the probe report, which labelled the 1992 demolition as "tailor made" and also blamed Uttar Pradesh`s then BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh.

The report had been "selectively leaked" to the media, an outraged BJP said, demanding that the report, submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh June 30, be tabled in the Parliament immediately.

Taking umbrage, Leader of Opposition Advani said he was shocked by the published report.

His colleague Murli Manohar Joshi, who is reportedly also named, echoed him when he said: "...Such leakages are made with a political motive and the government should place the entire report in Parliament and then we will discuss it. Six months have passed since the report was submitted and the Action Taken Report (ATR) has not been tabled."

Party president Rajnath Singh, who is in Jharkhand, added that the reportage was timed with the Jharkhand assembly beginning Wednesday and aimed at polarising voters in the state.

As the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned repeatedly with furious BJP MPs creating an uproar, the home minister intervened to say that Liberhan report would be tabled in the ongoing winter session - exactly 17 years after the Dec 6, 1992 demolition Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh`s Ayodhya town over claims that it was built over the Hindu god Ram`s birthplace.

The commission that probed the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition submitted its report June 30, and "we are required to table it along with the action taken report within six months", Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha.

"We shall table it during the (current) winter session" of parliament.

"It is unfortunate that a newspaper has published what purports to be the contents of the report," the home minister said.

"There`s only one copy in safe custody and I can assure the house that none from the ministry of home affairs has spoken to anyone."

The BJP was backed by other parties, cutting across political affiliations, to demand the tabling of the report.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said in the Lok Sabha said it had been 16 years since the Liberhan Commission had been constituted. "The government has been sitting over the report and we want to know why has the government not tabled it before the Parliament. How was the report leaked?"

"I just want to know how was the report leaked," Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Dara Singh Chauhan added.

Communist Party of India-Marixst MP Sitaram Yechury agreed and said in the Rajya Sabha: "Both the government and Liberhan Commission are saying that the report has not been leaked from their end but it has to come from one of them as what has been leaked is not some paragraphs but comprehensive summary that has come from an authentic source."

As the storm intensified so did the confusion.

A senior official of the Liberhan Commission said he was "astonished" at the report linking Vajpayee to the demolition.

Anupam Gupta, counsel for the commission that was set up soon after the mosque was demolished in 1992, had dissociated himself from the one-man panel after eight years because of differences with Liberhan.

He told a news channel that Vajpayee was the only BJP leader who was not connected to the mosque razing and what came to be known as the Ayodhya movement.

"A conscious decision was taken (that) since there is nothing to connect Vajpayee with the demolition proper or with the entire Ayodhya movement, whose culmination the demolition was, the Commission should not call Vajpayee," he said.

The Liberhan probe was India`s longest running inquiry commission and took 17 years and 48 extensions before the report was submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in June.

It cost the government nearly Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million).

The commission recorded statements of scores of politicians from the BJP, including Advani, Joshi, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti. Several members of the Congress and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were also questioned for their role in the demolition that triggered widespread riots.