New Delhi - A special court has charged senior leaders from India’s ruling party with criminal conspiracy in relation to the destruction of a 16th Century mosque.

Former BJP chief Lal Krishna Advani, veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi and federal minister Uma Bharti were among those charged in the court, BBC reported on Tuesday.

They deny making inflammatory speeches that encouraged Hindu mobs to tear down the Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992. The riots that followed killed nearly 2,000 people.

Hindus claim the mosque is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram, and that it was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple by a Muslim invader in the 16th Century.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has always said the destruction of the mosque was a planned event.

The special court was constituted after a Supreme Court order in April that said the three must face trial for their alleged role in the destruction of the mosque.

The court added that the trial must be completed within two years, that it would be held on “a day-to-day basis” and that “on no grounds, will it be adjourned”.

All three leaders appeared in court on Tuesday and were told that exemptions from personal appearance would not be allowed under “any circumstances”. However, they were all granted bail.

The Supreme Court has been hearing the case since 2011 after setting aside a high court judgement which allocated two-thirds of the disputed site to Hindu groups, and the remainder to Muslims.

The Allahabad High Court ruling in 2010 addressed three major issues. It said the disputed spot was Lord Ram’s birthplace, that the mosque had been built after the demolition of a temple and that it was not built in accordance with the tenets of Islam.

For the first time in a judicial ruling, it also said that the disputed site was the birthplace of the Hindu god.

Hindus want a temple built at the site, while Muslims want a new mosque.

Earlier this year, Chief Justice JS Khehar urged the two communities to settle the bitter dispute through negotiations and even offered to act as a mediator between the parties.

The case has already languished in India’s famously sluggish legal system for so long that most of the original petitioners have died.

Indian court orders suspension of ban on trade in cattle for slaughter

Reuters adds: An Indian court suspended on Tuesday a government ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter, a lawyer involved in the case said, giving some relief to Muslim-dominated beef and leather industries that employ millions of poor workers.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court suspended for four weeks the order that prohibited animal markets from trading cattle, including buffalo, for slaughter, lawyer S. Selvagomathy told Reuters.

The suspension by the court in southern India was effective countrywide, said Selvagomathy, who petitioned the court.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

In a setback for meat and leather industries dominated by Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had decreed that animal markets could only trade cattle for agricultural purposes, such as ploughing and dairy production.

The ban threatens $4 billion in annual beef exports and millions of jobs.

“I filed the petition because I thought the ban undermined basic rights such as the right to profession,” Selvagomathy said by telephone from southern India.

Abdul Faheem Qureshi, head of the Muslim All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee that supports meat sellers, welcomed the decision by the court in southern India and said his organisation would seek a suspension from India’s highest court.