The duo was allegedly among several leaders who addressed the kar sevaks in the lead up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Two accused in Babri Masjid demolition find place on the Ram temple trustNritya Gopal Das. PTI photo by Kamal Singh
news Controversy Friday, February 21, 2020 - 15:33

It was announced a day ago that Nritya Gopal Das and Champat Rai Bansal were appointed Chairman and General Secretary of the Ram temple trust, which will oversee construction of the temple in Ayodhya where the Babri mosque once stood. It is worth noting though, that both of them are key accused in the demolition of the mosque in 1992.

According to a report in The Hindu, the CBI chargehsset in the case says that both Das and Bansal were among the several leaders, including veteran BJP leader LK Advani, who had addressed the kar sevaks in the lead up to the destruction of the Babri Masjid.

The chargesheet reportedly names 43 other persons as well, who were charged under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153-A (promoting enmity on various grounds), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), among other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In 1997, a special court charged the accused persons, including Bansal and Das under relevant IPC sections for rioting as well. In May 2001, however, proceedings against 21 persons including the duo in question were dropped because the court said that there were two groups of accused – the kar sevaks themselves who razed the mosque to the ground, and the people who allegedly instigated them. This was upheld by the High Court, from where the matter proceeded to Supreme Court.

The SC, in 2017, directed a special court to frame additional charges in under section 120-B against other IPC sections that CBI mentioned in the chargesheet against some of the accused which included Bansal and Das. The next month, in May, a special CBI court deferred the framing of charges against six accused, that apart from Das and Bansal, included Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan, news agency PTI reported.

The Ayodhya verdict of November 2019 saw Supreme Court rule that a Ram temple would be built on the site where the Babri Masjid stood, the construction of which would be overseen by a temple trust instituted by the Union government. The apex court also directed the Centre to allocate five acres of land at a prominent site in Ayodhya to the Sunni Wakf Board to build a mosque.

TOI reported on Friday that the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board had said that it has accepted the five-acre plot allocated for the mosque by the Centre per the Supreme Court verdict. The Board added that it “never had the liberty to reject it”.

Earlier this month though, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had said that the Sunni Wakf Board accepting the land did not represent the will all Muslims in the country.

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