India mosque report puts main opposition on the mat

Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:03am EST


By Bappa Majumdar

NEW DELHI, Nov 24 (Reuters) - India's government on Tuesday published a long awaited report, recently leaked, accusing Hindu nationalist leaders of a role in the 1992 destruction of an ancient mosque, dealing a blow to an already-weak opposition.

The findings of the inquiry into the Ayodhya mosque demolition, which sparked some of the worst religious riots since Partition in 1947, are a huge embarrassment for the Bhatiya Janata Party (BJP), the biggest opposition in parliament.

The BJP has already been plagued by internal fighting after a string of defeats in federal and state elections this year.

"It is a body blow to the BJP and it will go against their attempt to project itself as a moderate party, and hamper their chances severely in coming elections," said political analyst Amulya Ganguli.

Hindu mobs demolished the 16-century mosque in the north Indian town of Ayodhya, claiming it stood on the birthplace of their god-king Rama. Riots between Hindus and Muslims left hundreds dead across India.

The report, 17 years in the making, says some of India's best known politicians -- including former Prime Minister Aal Behari Vajpayee and opposition leader Lal Krishna Advani did little to stop the destruction despite knowing of plans to demolish it.

Angy BJP lawmakers shouted slogans against the government minutes after the report was tabled in parliament.

"The findings of the commission are perverse, ill-founded and against the evidence placed before the commission," said Sushma Swaraj, a senior BJP leader.

The government decided to publish the report on Tuesday after excerpts were leaked to the Indian Express newspaper.

Both Advani and Vajpayee have said the demolition was a spontaneous act and have denied they orchestrated the mobs.

"If what is written is correct, the conclusions are false and ridiculous," Advani told parliament on Monday.

"There was no conspiracy, no planning. I myself have told the commission it was the saddest day of my life." (Additional reporting by Nigam Prusty; Editing by Alistair Scrutton) ((bappa.majumdar@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: bappa.majumdar.reuters.com@reuters.net, +91-11-41781003)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))

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