The verdict of a CBI court in the Babri Masjid demolition case was welcomed by several BJP leaders, including the acquitted accused, and condemned by sections of the Opposition.
The CBI court, in delivering its verdict acquitting all the accused, held that there was not enough evidence and that the demolition was not a planned action.
'Matter of happiness for us'
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, perhaps the most prominent of all the acquitted accused, said in a video message, "It is a very important decision and a matter of happiness for us. When we heard the news of the court's order, we welcomed it by chanting Jai Shri Ram."
Later in a statement, he said the "judgement came in footsteps of another verdict which paved way for my dream of seeing a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya".
After the court verdict, the 92-year-old BJP leader emerged from his home and greeted the gathered media by chanting the slogan of "Jai Shri Ram".
Another senior BJP leader, Murli Manohar Joshi, said the decision of the court proved that there was no conspiracy hatched for the demolition of the mosque.
"It is a historic decision by the court. This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for the 6 December (1992) incident in Ayodhya. Our programme and rallies were not part of any conspiracy," the senior leader was quoted as saying by ANI.
"We are happy. Everyone should now be excited about Ram Mandir's construction," he added.
Former Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan, who was an accused in the case, welcomed the verdict.
"Truth has prevailed," the 80-year-old former mayor of Thane told PTI, after attending the hearing through video conferencing.
Reactions of other leaders
The BJP and Shiv Sena, both of which were at the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, welcomed the verdict on Wednesday.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said, "I welcome the decision of a special court in Lucknow, which pronounced 32 accused, including LK Advani, Kalyan Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma ji (Uma Bharti) as innocent in the Babri Masjid demolition case. This verdict has shown that justice has been done, even if it was delayed."
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" Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 30, 2020
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took the opportunity to lash out at the Congress as he said, "Eventually, the truth has won. The then Congress government had, due to its bias, had levelled false allegations against our saints and senior leaders. The allegations have now been found to be baseless. The special court's decision has dispelled all doubts over the issue. We welcome the court's verdict."
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" Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) September 30, 2020
Among those who welcomed the verdict was Iqbal Ansari, the main litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.
"It is good that all have been acquitted. Whatever had to happen happened on 9 November. This case should also have ended the same day. This is the CBI's case and the court has given its ruling today. I appeal to Muslims not to take any further action in this. Just as they honoured the 9 November decision, this verdict too needs to be accepted similarly," he was quoted by PTI as saying.
"My party and I welcome the judgment and congratulate Advani ji, Murli Manohar ji, Uma Bharti ji and the people who have been acquitted in the case," Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut told ANI.
On the other hand, some other political leaders strongly criticised the verdict with CPM leader Sitaram Yechury terming the verdict as a complete 'travesty of justice.'
A complete travesty of Justice. All charged with criminal conspiracy to demolish Babri Masjid acquitted. It self imploded? The Constitution Bench headed by then CJI had said that demolition was an "egregious" violation of law. Now this verdict! Shame.https://t.co/fAeTHwhhDg
" Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) September 30, 2020
The Congress said, "The decision of special court to acquit all accused in Babri Masjid demolition case runs counter to the Supreme Court judgment and the constitutional spirit."
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 decision of the special court.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi put out a tweet which broadly translates to " "They are the killers, the judges, and the courts, and they are the martyrs too. Many decisions now seem one-sided."
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" Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) September 30, 2020
Owaisi was further quoted by ANI as saying, "Today is a sad day in the history of the Indian judiciary. Now, the court says there was no conspiracy. Please enlighten me, how many days or months of preparations are required to disqualify an action from being spontaneous?"
With inputs from PTI