The Shiv Sena today welcomed the verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition case, where all the accused were acquitted and the special court in Lucknow said there was no evidence of conspiracy to bring down the mosque. The verdict was "expected" and the demolition of the 16th Century structure is an episode that should now be forgotten, said the Sena, which has traditionally lent support to the movement for a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
In the verdict today, Special Judge SK Yadav said the temple demolition was not pre-planned and there was "not enough evidence against the accused", who included the BJP's top rung leaders -- LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh.
The authenticity of the video of the event submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation cannot be proved and the audio of the speech is not clear, the court said. In the judgment, the court also said, "Anti-social elements had tried to demolish the structure and the accused leaders had tried to stop them".
"I and my party Shiv Sena, welcome the judgment and congratulate Advani-ji, Murli Manohar ji, Uma Bharti-ji and the people who have been acquitted in the case," senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"The verdict saying demolition wasn't a conspiracy and a result of circumstances, was the expected judgment. We must forget that episode. If the Babri Masjid wasn't demolished we wouldn't have seen any Bhumi Pujan for Ram Mandir," said Mr Raut, adding that the case had lost significance after last November's Supreme Court verdict ordering the construction of a Ram temple at the site.
Sena's ruling ally in Maharashtra, the Congress, has slammed the special court's judgment.
The decision of the special court to acquit all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case runs counter to the Supreme Court judgment and the spirit of the Constitution, the Congress said.