NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A government-backed inquiry has accused several of India’s top opposition politicians of having a role in the destruction of an ancient mosque in 1992 that triggered some of the country’s worst religious riots.
The report has sparked political protests from opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which finds itself in even more trouble as it struggles to emerge from internal feuding after an election defeat in May.
Here are some questions and answers about the report and its political fallout:
The report, compiled by retired judge M.S. Liberhan, investigated the demolition of a 16th century mosque by Hindu mobs in Ayodhya on Dec. 6 1992. Hundreds were killed in rioting between Hindus and Muslims after the mosque’s destruction, driving another wedge between the two communities and radicalising many Muslims.
The probe stretched for 17 years and indicted 68 people. It accused some of India’s best-known politicians, including former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and current leader of opposition, Lal Krishna Advani, of doing little to stop the destruction despite knowing of plans to demolish the mosque.
Excerpts from the report were published in a leading Indian daily this week, angering the BJP which accused the government of selectively leaking details to discredit opposition leaders.
The BJP has rejected the report and questioned its credibility over its naming of Vajpayee, who the BJP says is an acknowledged secularist and moderate. The BJP has demanded an inquiry into how the report was leaked to the media.
The controversy has led to protests by the BJP in the parliament, holding up any exchange of business in the house. While the report presents a challenge to the BJP leaders, it is also seen as providing the party with a chance to close ranks and emerge united from the infighting that had clouded its future.
The BJP is also expected to try and rally support through a nationwide programme of street meetings and protests.
At least 62 bills, including ones on opening up pension funds to private players and giving equal voting rights to foreigners in private-sector banks, are to be discussed in the current parliamentary session.
But opposition disruption of proceedings means less time for discussions on these key bills and further delays in implementing much-awaited financial reforms.
Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Paul Tait