Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti appeared today in a Lucknow court that has ordered them to be present for the framing of conspiracy charges related to the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.

BJP leader Vinay Katiyar and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara too presented themselves before the court in the politically sensitive case.

A special CBI court had last week mentioned that the leaders would not be allowed to ask for an exemption from appearing in person.

Before appearing in the court, Uma Bharti said, “I don’t consider myself an accused. There was no conspiracy, it was an open movement like it happened during the Emergency.”

Here’re 7 things you need to know:

  • The Supreme Court had last month directed that BJP leaders including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, would face trial for conspiracy charges in the Babri case.
  • The stalwart BJP leaders are also facing trial for making provocative speeches from a platform near the mosque before it was pulled down by karsevaks.
  • The conspiracy charge against Advani and others was dropped by a special CBI Court in 2001, and the decision was endorsed by the Allahabad High Court in 2010.
  • The Supreme Court later restored the charges and described the demolition of the  mosque as a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution”.
  • The demolition of the mosque followed a nationwide movement led by Advani and others for a temple at the site where the mosque was constructed by Mughal Emperor Babur.
  • Many Hindus believe that the mosque was built over the birthplace of Lord Ram; they want a temple to be built there.
  • The razing of the Babri Masjid incited nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims; around 2,000 people were killed.