Advani, Joshi, Bharti to face criminal conspiracy charges

LUCKNOW: The special CBI court on Tuesday ordered framing of charges against BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and nine others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The charges will be framed under section 120 B, criminal conspiracy.
Earlier, all the 12 accused had pleaded not guilty and had moved a ‘discharge application’ rejecting the charges levelled against them.
Special judge S K Yadav rejected the plea and ordered framing of charges against all the 12 accused.
The accused have, however, been given bail on personal bonds.

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 marginalise 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. — IANS/dpa