Sunday, 5 July 2020

Liberhan’s Lapses

Updated: December 19, 2009 12:26 pm

Expectedly, the contents of the Liberahn Commission report, which were mysteriously leaked first to a section of the media and then formally tabled in the Parliament last week, have generated contempt rather than admiration in the country. The Commission   was set up on December 16, 1992 to investigate the destruction of the disputed structure of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

The Commission was expected to submit its report within three months after making an inquiry with respect to the following matters:

  • The sequence of events leading to, and all the facts and circumstances relating to, the occurrences in the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid complex at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, involving the destruction of the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid structure.
  • The role played by the Chief Minister, Members of the Council of Ministers, officials of the Government of Uttar Pradesh and by the individuals, concerned organisations and agencies in, or in connection with, the destruction of the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid structure.
  • The deficiencies in security measures and other arrangements as prescribed or operated in practice by Government of Uttar Pradesh which might have contributed to the events that took place in the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid complex, Ayodhya town and Faizabad on December 6, 1992.
  • The sequence of events leading to, and all the facts and circumstances relating to, the assault on media persons at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
  • Any other matters related to the subject of inquiry.

However, extensions were given forty-eight times, and after a delay of 17 years, the commission submitted the report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009. The one-man panel, one of the country’s longest running inquiry commissions, cost the government Rs. 8 crore. But what

has been the result? The answer is: “Pathetic”

In the 900-odd pages, the report of the Commission has not made us wiser. It has not revealed a single new point. Expectedly, it has blamed the entire BJP leadership, including the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the so-called Sangh Parivar led by the the RSS. And predictably, it has completely exonerated the Congress party and the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Such an utterly biased approach is all the more confusing given the fact that the Commission has taken the top leadership of the BJP to task for its inaction in preventing the destruction, but it maintained a studied silence over the then Prime Minister’s role, notwithstanding the facts that on the fateful day of December 6, the disputed structure was under the protection of paramilitary forces whose bosses were the central government officials and that soon after the destruction these very forces did not stop the construction over night of a make-shift temple of Lord Rama.

In fact, one can also point out that it was the Congress government of the late Rajiv Gandhi that had opened the locks the disputed site and allowed the puja rituals, arguably to counter the impression that it had appeased the Muslims too much over the Sahabanoo episode by overriding the judiciary that had allowed the distressed lady to seek suitable maintenance from her deserter husband. But the Commission has nothing to say on this. Such has been its “unbiased” approach!

But the striking aspect of the report is that it took so long to reveal nothing. In fact, accusing 68 persons, all belonging to the BJP and RSS in 1992, that it has makes an interesting reading. Many leading lights in this list have left the BJP in the meanwhile and some of them have joined the Congress and other so-called secular parties such as the Samajwadi Party. Shankarsinh Vaghela is the topmost leader of the Congress party today in Gujarat and until recently he was a senior cabinet minister under Manmohan Singh. Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Govidacharya have left the BJP.

Incidentally, Kalyan Singh was until recently, was the best friend of “the number one secularist” Samajwadi Party’s supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. What is more, Mulayam’s party now has a MP named Brij Bhushan Saran Singh. If press reports of the eventful day of December 6, 1992, are to go by, Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, then a BJP MP from Gonda , led the largest contingent of karsevaks that demolished the structure. But he has not even been included among the 68 individuals indicted by the Commission. It is all the more surprising given the fact that Singh was once a TADA accused and had told the court that he had been acquainted with Dawood Ibrahim! The point here is that it will not be wrong to say that the Commission, despite taking a long time to produce its report, has done a very poor job in not going deep into the matter and identifying the leaders who had actually participated in the demolition. Did Dawood Ibrahim have a hand? We would not know about it.

While findings of the Commission are simply pedestrian, some of its recommendations, however, are interesting and deserve public debates. Two recommendations in this context are particularly noteworthy. “Civil servants who are posted at the helm of affairs ought to be picked up for their skills that they are required to exercise rather than for completely unrelated academic skills or for casteist and regional basis”, the Commission has said. The UPA government says it “aggress” in its action-taken report. But does it really? After all, it is the same UPA government, which, along with many other “secularists”, has openly encouraged the intake of minorities into the Police forces by diluting the merit criteria. The same has been the approach in taking the OBC candidates in various other civil services under the pretext of social justice.

The other recommendation is equally interesting. The Commission says: “Political leaders, holders of constitutional offices, offices of profit, public offices and especially those holding cabinet positions or other similar positions of responsibility, sometime simultaneously hold offices in religious organisations, charities and trusts constituted on religious grounds.” The Manmohan Singh government says that “it has accepted in part” the recommendations. Why in part?

The Congress and other so-called secular parties may talk voluminously about the need of separating religion from politics, but in this age of vote-bank politics they all know the importance of religion. Do parties like Akali Dal and Muslim League not see politics through the prism of their religions? Had Congress not once promised in its election manifesto in Mizoram that if voted to power, the party would establish Christendom   in the state?

The moral of the story is that in its zeal to demonize the BJP, the Liberhan Commission has done something that could boomerang on the Congress, the party it has tried to shield.

By Prakash Nanda

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