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CBI eyewitness deposes at special court in Babri Masjid demolition case

An eyewitness produced by the CBI in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case today deposed before a special court as part of the day-to-day trial being conducted on the direction of the Supreme Court. Munna alias Habibullah had witnessed the entire incident 25 years ago, according to the prosecution. After the recording of his statement, defence counsel Vimal Srivastava started his cross-examination in the court of Special Judge S K Yadav here.
The cross-examination will continue tomorrow. The CBI’s counsel had yesterday furnished a list of the 196 witnesses examined by courts in Lucknow and 57 in Raebareli to the lawyers of BJP leader L K Advani and the other accused in the case.

The defence counsel had sought copies of statements of these witnesses which were provided to them.
Subsequently, the court had issued summons to the CBI witness. The judge had on May 30 framed charges against former deputy prime minister Advani (89), BJP veteran M M Joshi (83), Union minister Uma Bharti (58) and nine others for criminal conspiracy in the demolition case. The 16th-century structure in Ayodhya was pulled down on December 6, 1992. The Supreme Court had ordered restoration of the conspiracy charge against them on April 19.

The nine others against whom charges were framed were BJP MP Vinay Katiyar (62), VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmiya (89), one- time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Rithambara (53), Ramvilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, Dharam Das and Satish Pradhan. The charge of conspiracy is in addition to the existing charges against them including promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion for which they are already facing trial.

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Vedanti, Sharma, Bansal, Gopaldas, Dharam Das and Pradhan were allegedly present when the structure in Ayodhya was demolished. The maximum punishment which could be awarded to Advani and others upon conviction in the matter could be up to five years imprisonment or fine or both, according to a lawyer.