New Delhi, Sep 30 (PTI) The acquittal of all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case on Wednesday evoked contrasting responses from political parties, with the BJP hailing it as a 'victory of truth and justice', and the Congress along with other opposition parties asserting that the court verdict runs counter to constitutional spirit and the 2019 Supreme Court judgement.
The accused, including BJP veterans LK Advani and MM Joshi, were acquitted by a special CBI court in Lucknow which said there was no conclusive proof against them.
While the BJP in one voice hailed the verdict as a vindication of its stance, several opposition parties like the Congress, CPI(M), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) criticised the ruling. Some of them also demanded that the Central government should file an appeal against the order.
Welcoming the court verdict by chanting 'Jai Shri Ram', Advani, the political face of the 'Ram Janmabhoomi Movement', said it vindicates his personal and BJP's belief and commitment towards the movement.
Later, in a statement, the 92-year-old former deputy prime minister said, 'I also feel blessed that this judgement has come in the footsteps of another landmark verdict of the Supreme Court given in November 2019,which paved the way for my long cherished dream of seeing a grand Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the foundation laying ceremony of which was held on 5th August, 2020.' Former Union minister and BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi termed 'historic' the CBI court verdict and said, 'I will say only one thing 'Jai Jai Shri Ram, Sab ko sanmatti de bhagwan (May Lord, bestow wisdom on all).' Several top BJP leaders hailed the court's decision, and described it as a victory of truth and justice.
Senior BJP leader and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a tweet said he welcomes the court's decision as 'it shows that though late but the justice has won'.
Another party leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi in a video message on Twitter said, 'I welcome the court's order which proves our claim that the demolition of the mosque was not a pre-planned conspiracy. Jai Shri Ram'.
BJP leader Ram Madhav said this acquittal was long overdue and everyone should welcome the judgement.
Saffron outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad also termed the case verdict as the 'victory of truth'.
In it reaction, the Congress said the verdict to acquit all the accused runs counter to constitutional spirit and the 2019 Supreme Court judgement that had described the demolition of the structure as an 'egregious violation of the rule of law'.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said every Indian who has innate faith in the Constitution and in the spirit of communal amity and brotherhood expects and urges the Central and state governments to file an appeal against the verdict delivered on Wednesday.
The governments must follow the letter of the law and the Constitution without any 'partiality and pre-meditated prejudice' Surjewala said, adding this is the true calling of rule of law and Constitution.
The verdict also triggered different reactions on social media with sarcastic hashtags like 'ActofGod' and 'NoOneDemolishedBabri' trending on Twitter. A number of netizens also hailed the verdict as serving justice and trended hashtags like 'ShriRam'.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury described the verdict as 'complete travesty of justice'.
'All charged with criminal conspiracy to demolish Babri Masjid acquitted. Is it self imploded? The Constitution Bench headed by then CJI had said that demolition was an 'egregious' violation of law. Now this verdict! Shame,' he tweeted.
Expressing outrage over the verdict, AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi called it 'obnoxious' and said the central agency should appeal against it.
'This judgement satisfies the collective consciousness of hindutva and its followers and ideology,' Owaisi said.
The IUML termed as 'unfortunate' the decision of the Special CBI court to acquit all the accused and opined that an appeal should be filed against the verdict.
Reacting to the verdict, DMK president M K Stalin alleged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has failed to act fairly in the Babri mosque demolition case and that it has become a 'caged parrot' of the BJP-led Centre.
Several chief ministers of BJP-ruled states also reacted to the verdict with B S Yediyurappa (Karnataka), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) and Yogi Adityanath (UP) describing it as a 'victory of truth'.
The Trinamool Congress was guarded in its response to the verdict, and said that 'those who are not happy with the judgement can move higher courts'.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the Babri masjid demolition case had lost its relevance after the Supreme Court settled the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit in 2019, even as he welcomed the special court's verdict acquitting all the 32 accused in the case.
Raut said the demolition episode needed to be forgotten now.
The NCP said it was not surprised over the special court's verdict acquitting all accused in the Babri masjid demolition case.
'The court has given verdict in the case today. It was expected, and hence, we are not surprised,' Maharashtra minister and NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said in a video message.
In a judgment that ran to 2,300 pages with enclosures, the special CBI court said there was no conclusive evidence against the 32 accused of being involved in any conspiracy to bring down the disputed structure in Ayodhya.
Delivering the verdict on the day of his retirement, special Judge S K Yadav did not accept newspaper reports and video cassettes as evidence.
The court also observed that the late Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal wanted to save the structure because Ram idols were inside.
The 16th century mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, triggering riots that left hundreds dead in the country and widening rifts between the communities. PTI ASK/JTR/KR BNS ENM VGN MR SJR ASK PYK PYK