Has the Liberhan Commission indicted the leader of Opposition L K Advani or not?
This is one of the important questions on everyone's mind on Tuesday as Justice Liberhan has put a full stop to the long, tiresome and delayed inquiry into the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
According to a source in the commission who has been privy to hundreds of hearings, there were no direct evidence produced against Advani during the entire 17 years of tenure of the commission. It has been left entirely on judge's discretion to interpret the sequence of event, quotes, speeches and interviews of Advani and other co-accused and their public actions to 'judge' their actual role behind the demolition of mosque.
The Babri Masjid demolition, a watershed event that changed not just Indian politics but Indian society as well, is so far a mystery. Only when the government, if and when, publishes the report submitted by Justice Liberhan will Indians would know what exactly led to demolition of mosque, who were behind it, how the then Bharatiya Janata Party state government led by Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and Union government led by then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao was rendered impotent when hordes climbed the mosque and demolished it in presence of lakhs of people and TV cameras.
In 2007, when commission counsel Anupam Gupta quit in disgust it shocked many. At that time, Gupta had told Outlook magazine that, "I am not sure whether Justice Liberhan would like to address L K Advani's role in the demolition."
Gupta believed that Advani's Rath Yatra was the trigger that eventually culminated in demolition of Babri mosque. Not just Advani and BJP leaders even the Late Narasimha Rao was also in the firing line.
Justice Liberhan will be remembered for running the longest ever commission in India's history and that is nothing to be proud about for country's justice delivery system.
And, if the commission findings don't explain the entire event convincingly then it will lead to a huge trust deficit.
The findings have to satisfy all but the minority community will wait with anxiety.
Kamal Farooqui, member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, says, "If the commission gives a clean chit to Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti over their role in demolition then the report will lose its credibility. We are not so forgetful. All of us have seen what happened in Ayodhya -- right on the site -- for a full three days. How tension was built up, how people were bought and how the leaders rejoiced when the mosque turned into dust."
One thing is for sure, if the commission gives a clean chit to senior BJP leaders, Muslim leaders and secular forces will discredit the report as whitewash. And, if the BJP leaders and others who have been charge-sheeted are incited then the BJP will have a lot to answer for.
However, Advani has maintained since long that when Babri fell he had tears in his yes. Later, he wrote a column saying that December 6, 1992, was the saddest day in his life. Advani has been taking an intense interest in the Liberhan proceedings and he gave a detailed account of his actual role.
Even in his autobiography My Country My Life he has maintained that he was feeling both distraught and helpless when the Babri Masjid was demolished.
Farooqui says, "We will lose faith if the report refuses to tell the truth of the Babri demolition."