Kar Sewa in Ayodhya was to be allowed, says IPS officer

"We already knew that kar sewaks were to be allowed to perform kar sewa and devotees allowed to pay obeisance to the deities and we had to remain alert," Anju Gupta, a 1990 batch IPS officer, said in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Gulab Singh while being cross-examined by defence counsel H S Sharma in the Babri Mosque demolition case.

Gupta was replying to a question by Sharma as to whether she had any information that during a meeting convened by then Inspector General of Police A K Saran, it was decided to allow kar sewaks to perform kar sewa on December 6, 2002. The IPS officer, who is a prosecution witness, was cross-examined by the defence counsel for nearly three hours. She was first crossed by the defence on April 23 on her deposition. The judge posted the matter for further hearing on May 15.

The defence counsel asked her that if the meeting was called by Saran a day before the demolition as there was specific information that operatives of Pakistan intelligence agency ISI had reached Ayodhya, had mingled with the people and had plans to damage the disputed structure by using explosive substances or any other method with an objective of creating unrest in the state and the country.

"As I had previously said that IG Saran had mentioned about some threats of which threat from ISI and that from the kar sewaks were there," she said, noting that back-to-back meetings were held on December 5. "I cannot tell what happened in other meetings," Gupta said. She refuted queries if Saran had stated anything about any threat from militants of Kashmir-based organisations or on ISI operatives mingling with the kar sewaks.

On the defence counsel's suggestion that a three-tier security arrangement was made in the wake of threat from militants of Kashmir-based organisations and ISI operatives, Gupta said that the arrangements were in place much in advance. Deposing before the court on March 26, Gupta had said Advani had made a provocative speech in Ayodhya moments before the Babri masjid was demolished by Sangh Parivar activists in 1992.

Gupta, the then Additional Superintendent of Police in Faizabad, had told the court on April 23 that Faizabad Police had intelligence inputs about possibility of an attack on the Masjid by "kar sevaks". She is appearing as a prosecution witness in the case in which Advani, his party colleague Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and other Sangh Parivar leaders have been accused of inciting violence that led to the demolition.

During today's cross examination, Gupta said though she was assigned the duty of personal security officer to Advani, she was not there with the BJP leader between 6 pm and 6.30 pm on December 6. "As I was directed by the Additional SP to reach riot- hit areas and control the situation, I had left Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi sometime between 6 pm to 6.30 pm," she said.

To a question from the defence counsel, Gupta said senior officers could change the duty of their subordinates depending on a situation and this was part of a standard practice in the police. On the defence counsel’s suggestion that there were certain omissions in her statement given to the CB-CID as compared to her deposition made before the court, Gupta said that she told each and everything to the investigating agency.

"If something is not there in the statement written by the investigating officer, I cannot tell the reason behind it," she said. Gupta said that as per her knowledge, the three-tier security arrangement comprised three cordons. She said that while four companies (400 personnel) of CRPF and 20 companies (2000 personnel) of PAC were present in Ayodhya, there was provision to summon additional forces from outside. "I don’t have any idea where they were deployed," she said.

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