An Indian government investigation released yesterday reportedly implicates dozens of Hindu nationalist politicians – including a former prime minister – in the 1992 demolition of a mosque which sparked deadly communal riots.
The attack by Hindu mobs on the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, 350 miles east of New Delhi, set off nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people in the largest explosion of Hindu-Muslim tension in the country in decades.
Hindu nationalist leaders claim the mosque was built by Mogul rulers at the site of a Hindu temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.
The violence was a black mark on India's secular tradition and exposed simmering religious tensions in the country.
A copy of the report, obtained by the private NDTV television news channel, listed 68 Hindu nationalist politicians, bureaucrats and other officials as being culpable in the violence. Their names included Atal Behari Vajpayee, who later became prime minister, and Lal Krishna Advani, another leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
The nearly 1,000-page investigation contradicted claims by nationalist leaders that the mosque demolition was a spontaneous eruption by angry Hindu activists. "The demolition was carried out with great painstaking preparation and pre-planning," the report said.
The commission, headed by former judge MS Liberhan, painted a grim portrait of official complicity in the attack on the mosque on 6 December 1992. It accused the Hindu nationalist government of the state of Uttar Pradesh of encouraging tens of thousands of militant Hindus to converge on the mosque compound in the days before the attack.
The state then refused to send in police reinforcements to protect the mosque, and security officials were told not to use force against the gathering mob, the report claims.
Militants faced little resistance when they attacked the 16th-century structure with spades, crowbars and their bare hands. Security officials "chose to remain deaf, dumb and blind throughout," the report said.
The report has taken so long to produce that many of those accused of stoking the violence have since died.