P. V. Narasimha Rao - Challenges Faced in Office - Babri Mosque Riots

Babri Mosque Riots

See also: Ayodhya debate

In the late 1980s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought the temple issue to the centerstage of national politics, and the BJP and VHP began organising larger protests in Ayodhya and around the country

Members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) demolished the Babri Mosque (which was constructed by India's first Mughal emperor, Babar) in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. The site is believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama and is believed by the Hindu Community to be a place of a Hindu temple created in the early 16th century. The destruction of the disputed structure, which was widely reported in the international media, unleashed large scale communal violence, the most extensive since the Partition of India. Hindus and Muslims were indulged in massive rioting across the country, and almost every major city including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bhopal struggled to control the Unrest.

Later Liberhan Commission, after extensive hearing and investigation, exonerated PV Narasimha Rao. It pointed out that Rao was heading a minority government, the Commission accepted the centre’s submission that central forces could neither be deployed by the Union in the totality of facts and circumstances then prevailing, nor could President’s Rule be imposed "on the basis of rumours or media reports". Taking such a step would have created "bad precedent" damaging the federal structure of and would have "amounted to interference" in the state administration, it said. The state “deliberately and consciously understated" the risk to the disputed structure and general law and order. It also said that the Governor’s assessment of the situation was either badly flawed or overly optimistic and was thus a major impediment for the central government. The Commission further said, "... knowing fully well that its facetious undertakings before the Supreme Court had bought it sufficient breathing space, it (state government) proceeded with the planning for the destruction of the disputed structure. The Supreme Court’s own observer failed to alert it to the sinister undercurrents. The Governor and its intelligence agencies, charged with acting as the eyes and ears of the central government also failed in their task. Without substantive procedural prerequisites, neither the Supreme Court, nor the Union of India was able to take any meaningful steps."

In yet another discussion with journalist Shekhar Gupta, answered several of the questions on the demolition. He said he was wary of the impact of hundreds of deaths on the nation, and it could have been far worse. And also he had to consider the scenario in which some of troops turned around and joined the mobs instead. Regarding dismissal of Kalyan Singh (government), he said, "mere dismissal does not mean you can take control. It takes a day or so appointing advisers, sending them to Lucknow, taking control of the state. Meanwhile, what had to happen would have happened and there would have been no Kalyan Singh to blame either."

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