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MM Joshi denies charges in Babri demolition case

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Thursday denied all charges against him in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, and dubbed them as fabricated and politically motivated.

Joshi, 86, appeared before the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court to record his statements through video conferencing from his residence in New Delhi. Lawyer KK Mishra represented Joshi in the CBI court in Lucknow.

“During the court proceedings, Joshi answered around 300 questions,” Mishra said.

Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav of the CBI court ordered that a PDF file of Joshi’s statements be sent to the central agency’s Delhi office via email. The court also ordered CBI to get Joshi’s statement signed by him and sent back to the CBI court.

On Friday, senior BJP leader LK Advani, 92, will appear before the CBI court via video link from his residence in New Delhi to record his statements.

With Advani’s statement, the CBI court will complete recording statements of all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, barring Shiv Sena leader Satish Pradhan, who has tested positive for Covid-19 and is under quarantine in Mumbai. The court has fixed July 28 for Pradhan to record his statements.

Another accused, Om Prakash Pandey of Uttarakhand, is absconding for the last 16 years and the CBI court has issued orders to seize his property.

The Babri mosque in Ayodhya was brought down on December 6, 1992 by kar sevaks who believed the structure was built on the birthplace of Hindu God Ram.

The decades-old dispute over the site was settled last year when the Supreme Court ordered that the site be given to a trust to build a temple, and that alternative land be provided in Ayodhya for a mosque. Advani, Joshi, and others have been accused of being involved in the conspiracy to demolish the mosque.

The foundation-stone laying ceremony of the temple is expected to be held in the first week of August with the Prime Minister in attendance. Advani, too, is expected to attend the event.

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