Proclaimed offender Om Prakash Pandey surrendered before the special CBI court in Lucknow on Thursday in the Babri mosque demolition case. The court took him under custody and later released him after he furnished a personal bond.
The court subsequently recorded his statement under Criminal Procedure Code section 313 (examination of accused). Pandey claimed he was innocent and had not committed any crime. After Pandey's appearance, the court directed that his case be heard along with those of 31 other accused. The court had earlier separated his file from the other accused.
Special CBI judge SK Yadav had issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Pandey on July 28 when he failed to appear before him. The judge had declared him a proclaimed offender and proceeded to attach his property.
On Thursday, Pandey told the court that he had relinquished his home and was in Rishikesh, performing religious rituals to pray that the Ram temple be constructed at Ayodhya.
"I came to attend the August 5 ceremony in which the prime minister performed bhoomi pujan for the temple," said Pandey. "It was then that I came to know about the court's NBW and so I am forthwith appearing before this court as I am a law abiding citizen," he added.
Meanwhile, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh produced evidence in his defence in the court, which took it on record and directed other accused to produce their defence evidence on August 14. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the special court to conclude the trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case of 1992 by August 31 this year.
The Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 by 'kar sevaks' who claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple.