- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

NEW DELHI The daughter-in-law and former political secretary of India's Hindu nationalist home minister has accused him of ordering the demolition of a 16th-century mosque in 1992 that resulted in the death of more than 3,000 in Hindu-Muslim riots.
Lal Krishna Advani, 75, also faced opposition attack in Parliament yesterday for failing to prevent last week's religious riots in Gujarat state that killed more than 600 people. Last week's carnage was sparked when a train carrying Hindus from the site of the mosque was set on fire.
In December 1992, Mr. Advani was among the leaders of a Hindu militants' march to the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in Northern India. When the mob of thousands pulled down the domes of the mosque, Mr. Advani denied any role in the demolition but instead blamed it on mass hysteria.
In a written submission to an inquiry commission probing the demolition, his daughter-in-law, Gauri Advani, said that he in fact ordered the demolition. The letter was delivered in January and leaked last week.
In several appearances before the Liberhan Commission, Mr. Advani maintained that he had tried his best to stop the demolition of the mosque but failed to rein in the "emotionally charged" activists.
Describing his claims as a "bundle of lies," Mrs. Advani said her father-in-law had issued orders in her presence to the leader of an extremist Hindu group to tear down the mosque.
"Can't the stain of slavery that is the Babri mosque be erased? Bring down the mosque. The time has come," she quoted Mr. Advani as saying to Vinay Katiyar of the Bajrang Dal five days before the mosque was demolished.
Mrs. Advani's nine-page statement to the commission is considered significant because she was Mr. Advani's political secretary at the time of the demolition, the Frontline magazine said. Mrs. Advani, now a London-based lawyer, recently divorced Mr. Advani's son, Jayant.
Mr. Advani, an influential, hard-line leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), already has been charged by India's Central Bureau of Investigation for delivering communal speeches and inciting Hindu radicals to demolish the mosque.
Hindus consider the site of the mosque the birthplace of god Ram, and claim the Mogul emperor Babar destroyed a temple to build the mosque in the 16th century. A coalition of militant Hindu organizations plans to build a Ram temple at the site.
Last week thousands of their supporters gathered at the site to start the process, but after the Gujarat riots, the groups have decide to postpone the construction.
In Parliament yesterday, opposition lawmakers called the BJP-led government "a disgrace" and demanded the resignation of Mr. Advani for failing to stop the worst religious violence in a decade.
Mr. Advani is expected to reply in Parliament today to accusations he delayed ordering the army to halt the violence.
The riots have confronted Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, 77, with the toughest crisis since he took office in 1999, forcing him to balance the demands of militant Hindus and his secular coalition partners.
The opposition lawmakers also demanded the firing of Narendra Modi, chief minister of the BJP-led government in Gujarat, over the state's failure to crack down swiftly on the roving Hindu gangs who burned many Muslims alive and hacked others to death.


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