Pawan Pandey alleged that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was "pre-planned".
A former Shiv Sena leader in Uttar Pradesh, Pawan Pandey, has alleged that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was "pre-planned" and that top BJP leaders LK Advani and Uma Bharti, who is a Union Minister, were privy to a plot to bring the 16th century mosque down in December 1992.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Advani, Ms Bharti and other leaders of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the mosque 25 years ago. Lakhs of karsevaks
or volunteers had brought down the mosque on December 6, 1992. The leaders were present on a platform near the site and are also being tried for making speeches that allegedly provoked the karsevaks
There was no criminal conspiracy, Ms Bharti had asserted hours after the court verdict last week. She said "Everything was out in the open."
"I don't know how the leaders are saying there was no conspiracy," Pawan Pandey, who is now with the BSP, told NDTV. He alleged that top leaders of the BJP, among them Ms Bharti and Mr Advani, and Ashok Singhal of the VHP who died two years ago, attended a meeting on December 5, the night before the mosque was razed. "The decision to go ahead with the demolition was taken at that meeting," said Mr Pandey. He said he was present at that meeting in Ayodhya.
Pawan Pandey, 51, is the main accused in the case in a Lucknow court against those who brought down the mosque. Forty-nine people were named in that case, some have died since, among them Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.Karsevaks
, Mr Pandey alleged, were "trained to demolish the mosque" and that "there was complete preparedness on how it would be demolished."
Pawan Pandey was 25 then and the Shiv Sena's legislator from Akbarpur in UP. He said he was at the Ayodhya site on December 6 with about 1,500 people and alleges that he heard Ms Bharti say, "Ek dhakka aur do (Push once more)" when a dome of the mosque was brought down. "Advaniji was on stage, he knew everything," alleged Mr Pandey.
Mr Pandey, who describes himself as a devotee of Ram, is yet to be heard in court. "I will tell the court exactly what I have said to you, I am not afraid of anyone," he said today.
The Supreme Court's order last week clubs the case against the top BJP leaders along with the case against Mr Pandey in Lucknow. The court has ordered daily hearings and said there must a verdict in two years.
The BJP has backed its leaders. "We believe in the innocence of our important leaders, including Advani ji and Joshi ji...They have been facing trial and they will face trial in terms of process of law," said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after the Supreme Court verdict. Amit Shah, the BJP's president, reportedly reassured Mr Advani, 89, that "the party is with you."