India's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that four senior members of the ruling Hindu nationalist party must stand trial for their involvement in an attack on the 16th-century Babri mosque a quarter-century ago.
Some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in violence that erupted in December 1992, when Hindu zealots razed the mosque using pickaxes and crowbars. However, thousands more were later killed in violence related to the disputed site.
The officials, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have denied any involvement in the attack, but critics alleged their fiery speeches in Ayodhya, where the mosque was located, led to its destruction.
The court ordered Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, former Deputy Premier LK Advani, ex-BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh to be retried on conspiracy charges.
A lower court had previously dropped charges against the four officials brought on by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which prompted a series of appeals.
"We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court Judgment with certain directions," Supreme Court judges said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The court's ruling stipulates that the case wrap-up in two years and take place in Lucknow, roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Ayodhya.
Due to Singh's current position as governor of Rajasthan, his trial will begin after his tenure ends due to constitutional immunity granted to those in office. He served as Uttar Pradesh governor, where the mosque was located, during the incident.
Hindu activists believe that a temple marking the birthplace of their god Ram had been destroyed to make way for the Babri mosque. They have called for the construction of a new temple honoring Ram on the disputed site.
ls/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)