BJP leaders charged over 1992 mosque demolition

In this photograph taken on July 2, 2009, Indian BJP leader Uma Bharti (C) takes part in a rally in New Delhi. A special court on Tuesday charged three senior leaders of India's ruling right-wing party with conspiracy over the demolition of a mosque in 1992, which unleashed one of the deadliest riots across the country. (AFP / MANAN VATSYAYANA)
Updated 30 May 2017

BJP leaders charged over 1992 mosque demolition

NEW DELHI: An Indian judge charged a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and senior leaders from his ruling party with criminal conspiracy on Tuesday in connection with the 1992 destruction of a mosque by a Hindu mob.
The demolition of the mosque in northern Uttar Pradesh state unleashed some of the deadliest religious riots across the country since independence in 1947, killing about 2,000 people.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and stalwarts of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by L. K. Advani and M. M. Joshi appeared in court in the city of Lucknow to hear the charges.
All three deny any role in the razing of the mosque.
The trial of senior BJP leaders will raise fresh questions about Hindu nationalism within Modi’s party at a time when critics accuse his supporters of trying to marginalize minority groups and redefine India as a Hindu nation.
“The judge accepted our plea to charge the leaders with criminal conspiracy and the accused are already facing trial for making provocative speeches that incited Hindus to pull down the Babri mosque,” said M. R. Shamshad, a lawyer representing Muslim leaders and victims of the violence.
Bharti, entering the courtroom on Tuesday amid a crowd of reporters, rejected the charges.
“I don’t consider myself a criminal,” she said.
Lawyers representing Joshi and Advani did not respond to requests for comment.
Many Hindus believe that the mosque in the town of Ayodhya was built on top of the birthplace of their god-king Rama and the BJP is committed to the construction of a temple there.
The dispute is still at the core of tensions between Hindus and India’s Muslim minority. BJP party leaders have faced prosecution for their alleged involvement in the mosque’s destruction for more than a decade, but last month the Supreme Court ruled the party leaders must be tried and the case wrapped up within two years.
Advani, a former home minister and chief of the BJP, led Hindus on the pilgrimage that ended with the razing of the mosque. He says he tried to stop the clashes.
On Tuesday, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest, met the three accused outside the court in a sign of support.


France may be experiencing 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day – government advisor

Updated 32 min 57 sec ago

France may be experiencing 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day – government advisor

  • France registered a record 52,010 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours

PARIS: France may be experiencing 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day — two times more than the latest figures — Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the pandemic, told RTL radio on Monday.
“There is probably more than 50,000 cases per day. We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day,” said Delfraissy.
France registered a record 52,010 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday, as a second wave of cases surges through Europe.
The new cases took the French total to 1,138,507, with France now ahead of Argentina and Spain to register the world’s fifth highest number of cases after the United States, India, Brazil and Russia.