Eighteen years after the 16th century Babri masjid was pulled down by violent Hindu kar sevaks in the temple town of Ayodhya, a special court in Lucknow has decided to commence the formal trial from August 23.
This follows framing of charges against 23 accused persons by special court judge V K Tyagi on Tuesday, a court official said.
While charges against top Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders including Lal Krishna Advani, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar were already dropped by the high court, the most prominent among those who were on the firing line was former Faizabad district magistrate R N Srivastava and mafia don turned BJP member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Saran Singh.
Most of the remaining accused were Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists who were directly involved in the events that snowballed into the demolition of the Babri masjid on December 6, 1992. The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which had earlier filed the charge-sheets against the accused persons.
According to the court order, besides Singh, charges were framed against Pawan Kumar Pandey, Lalloo Singh, Jai Bhagwan Goel, Sudhir Kakkar, Ram Chandra Khattri, Amar Nath Goel, Santosh Dubey, Prakash Sharma, Jai Bhan Singh Pawaiya, Dharmendra Singh Gujar, Ramji Gupta, Vinay Kumar Rai, Kamlesh Tripathi, Om Prakash Pandey, Gandhi Yadav, Har Govind Singh, Vijay Bahadur Singh and Naveen Bhai Shukla.
Three other accused, including then Faizabad senior superintendent of police D B Rai, had died during the pendency of the case.
The special court has fixed August 23 for commencement of the trial and recording of statement by witnesses.