On 6 December 1992, a mob of Hindu militants tore down the 16th Century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, north India, sparking nationwide communal riots in which nearly 2,000 people were killed. The mob claimed the site where the mosque stood used to be a temple marking the birthplace of a popular Hindu god. (The Wiki link to Babri Masjid background)
Ten days later, on 16 December 1992, the government set up a commission of inquiry headed by the retired judge of Supreme Court, M S Liberhan, to probe the events that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Seventeen years later, after 48 extensions and some 4,000 sittings, the Liberhan Commission submitted its report to ther Prime Minister on June 30, 2009.
The report indicts the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders, including LK Advani,Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal and Vinay Katiyar. The Commission also questions the inaction of the them Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. (More here, here and here)
Tearing down the Babri Masjid
Mark Tully, who was reporting for the BBC, witnessed at first hand the destruction of the mosque. His account of that day:
On 6 December 1992, I was standing on the roof of a building with a clear view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
This was the day the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other organisations supporting it were to begin work on building the temple, but they had given a commitment to the government and the courts that it would only be a symbolic start, a religious ceremony and no damage would be done to the mosque.
A vast crowd, perhaps 150,000 strong, had gathered and was listening to speeches given by BJP and right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders. More:
Another eyewitness report by Sunita Aaron in the Hindustan Times:
A huge crowd, watched over by a large posse of security men, had gathered around the barricaded Babri Masjid, or ‘disputed structure’ as it was called. We managed to reach the podium from which Sangh Parivar leaders, with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the forefront, were making speeches.
The speeches were the same, no different from what we’d been hearing for years, about the Babri Masjid being a ‘symbol of slavery’.
Suddenly, a handful of kar sevaks broke through the iron barricades, amid loud cheers and Jai Sri Ram slogans. Security men made no effort to hold them back.
Once the barricades fell, the kar sevaks were unstoppable. Some climbed the Babri dome, others began to smash the foundations of the structure using the barricades they had uprooted. More: