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Madhani would carry out his political functions sticking to the principles of secularism and democracy – V S Achuthanandan, Chief Minister, Kerala

Abdul Nasser Madhani, who was the accused number 14 in the February 14, 1998 serial blasts in the city, was released on bail, after he was exonerated from all the five charges against him, including criminal conspiracy to trigger the blasts, by the Session Court (Bomb Blast Cases) today. On his future plans, particularly in the political field after returning to Kerala, he said it would be decided at an appropriate time. Madhani is also likely to meet Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan. Unhappy with the acquittal of PDP chairman, Abdul Nasser Madani, in the 1998 Coimbatore blasts case, the Opposition BJP today demanded that an appeal be filed against the verdict on the “biggest terror attack in south India.” Senior BJP leader L K Advani, the then Union Home Minister, escaped only because his flight was late. The Kerala government has welcomed Madhani’s acquittal. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan said that the Left Front’s stand on Madhani will depend on his position on various issues.

”Our government tried to provide him medical help while in jail. Following our intervention he was provided minimum relief. His release was very important considering his deteriorating health condition,” said V S Achuthanandan, Chief Minister, Kerala.

The PTI also quotes the Kerala Chief Minister

Madhani would carry out his political functions sticking to the principles of secularism and democracy.

The latter quote by the Kerala has Offstumped intrigued enough to pose the question why is the Left keen to get Madhani’s good side. According to the PTI it is not just the Left but also the Congress.

“We happily welcome his acquittal in the case. The UDF had always tried to help him when he was in jail for over nine years as an undertrial,” KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala

Some hints into the love for Madhani can be found in this tid-bit reported by NDTV.

Madhani’s party, the PDP, has pockets of influence in southern Kerala quite crucial in the state’s bi-polar politics. The CPI(M) benefited from the PDP in the 2006 assembly elections and the UDF in 2001.

But first some historical perspective. On September 28th, 1998, PTI reported on the filing of chargesheets in the 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts case after 8 months of investigation by the CB-CID’s special investigation team (SIT). The Chargesheet named 166 persons and was 800 pages long. Heading the list of 166 persons arraigned by the police, was S.A. Basha, President of the banned fundamentalist outfit Al-Umma. Its Vice-President Tajudeen, his absconding colleague Mohammed Ansari and chief of People’s Democratic Party, Kerala, Abdul Nazar Madhani, were named second, third and fourth accused respectively. The charge against Madani according to the PTI report was

Tajudeen made several trips to Kerala and procured high grade explosives for the small box-bombs from accused Madani, who supplied them through another accused Raju, alias Army Raju (a deserter from the Assam Rifles), it said.

It is kind of strange that Madani should have all charges quashed when a Muslim friendly DMK ruled Tamil Nadu and a LDF ruled Kerala saw enough of a case to chargesheet Madani back in 1998 after 8 months of investigation. Surely one cannot argue there was a vast right wing hindutva conspiracy to nail Madani, so what then prompted his inclusion in the chargesheet in the first place.

If the Left’s praise of Madani is curious enough its hypocrisy is galling.

On April 22 2001, the CPM mouthpiece People’s Democracy criticized the UDF’s dalliance with Madani.

They also earnestly want to be in company with the PDP of Abdul Nazar Madani who is in jail for the last three years for his alleged involvement in the Al-Umma conspiracy that led to the Coimbatore riots. Madani is desperately trying to get released from prison, and for this he requires the BJP’s help to persuade the DMK government of Tamil Nadu to release him. Here the UDF’s role is to pimp between the PDP and the BJP, to forge an indirect understanding by which PDP votes are polled for BJP candidates and Madani is released from prison.

The gutter language apart, the CPM seems to be unambiguous about Madani’s role in the blasts.

On May 20, 2001, the CPM mouthpiece had even more interesting things to say.

The Congress record in Kerala was no better insofar as fighting the forces of communalism is concerned. Here, as is well known, the Congress is in the leadership of the United Democratic Front that includes the Muslim League as well as several caste-based parties. But the Congress did not remain content with this only. It went to the extent of having an open understanding with the BJP as well as with the Muslim fundamentalist People’s Democratic Party (PDP). As reported by the media, some of the Congressmen even went to the Coimbatore Jail to seek support from the PDP leader Madani who is lodged there on the charge of his involvement in the Coimbatore bomb blasts.

Note how Madani goes from being muslim fundamentalist in 2001 to secular and democratic in 2007.

While in November 2001 the CPM mouthpiece calls Madani the leader of a terrorist organization, In December 2001, the CPM mouthpiece makes the argument that existing laws were adeuqate to contain terrorism and as proof point for its argument it cites the Madani case.

Much has been written about the existing laws being sufficient to meet the terrorist challenges. A former Chief Justice and two Judges of the Supreme Court in the National Human Rights Commission have said that POTO provisions are “substantially taken care of under the existing laws”. This can be seen by the fact that PDP leader Madani, prime accused in the Coimbatore blasts of 1998, continues to remain in detention till date. Similarly, SIMI was banned by this very government recently.

So as far as the CPM was concerned Madani was not just a Muslim Fundamentalist but a Terrorist.

The Hindu carried an excellent chronicle on the rise of Madani in Kerala. Till as recently as 2004 it was only the UDF and Congress that were hobnobbing with Madani. In 2004 then Kerala CM Oomen Chandy even offered to visit Madani in jail on a visit to Tamil Nadu owing to pressure from the PDP.

The degree of Muslim radicalization in support of Madani becomes evident in a Jan 2003 report by the PTI

a youth has been questioned in connection with the recovery of an electronic timer device and gelatine sticks from an STD booth near the Coimbatore Press club

Police said the youth was also being questioned in connection with the receipt of fax messages by some newspaper offices in Coimbatore.
The messages stated: “We have done it. If Tamil Nadu police repeat torturing PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani and his family, we will repeat it – ISS- Kerala”.

As recently as 2005 the Supreme Court rejected Madani’s bail plea after a similar rejection by the Madras High Court. So how did Madani manage a clean chit, it is baffling.

But the 2006 elections in Kerala change everything with media reports of the Left turning Green in Kerala’s Muslim Heartland of Malabar. In March 2006 the Kerala Assembly passes a resolution calling for Madani’s release. News media outlets from Hindustan Times to Times of India roundly criticize the move calling it “using a terrorist” for vote bank politics. By March 31st Madani returns the LDF’s favor by announcing from Jail that his party the PDP would support the LDF in the upcoming polls. The change of heart is attributed to secret talks Mr. T.K. Hamza, CPI(M) MP, had with Madani in jail. The dividends to the Left in Kerala come in the assembly polls that saw the Muslim vote overwhelmingly favoring the LDF over the UDF.

So what reasons did the court give for acquitting Madani ?

lack of sufficient evidence

Of the 166 accused in the blasts that killed 58 people, special judge K Uthirapathy acquitted eight, including the Kerala-based People’s Democratic Party chairman Abdul Nazar Madani. All the acquitted were from Kerala. If this was strange enough, the Economic Times today carries a story

The government proscribed the Al Ummah and the Jihad Committee within three hours of the incident. Investigators had unearthed a link between the Al Ummah and Pakistan’s ISI, with PDP leader from Kerala, Abdul Nasser Madani, acting as bridge.

Offstumped Bottomline: The acquittal of Madani in the Coimbatore Blast Case is highly suspect and is bound to be subject to intense public scrutiny. The shameful turnaround by the Left in the run up to the 2006 Kerala Assembly polls exposes its hypocrisy and doublespeak. Madani went from being a Muslim Fundamentalist and Terrorist to a Secular Democrat. If his continued detention was first hailed by the Left as effectiveness of existing laws to curb terrorism, it is now decried as a human rights violation.

While the Madani acquittal is headed for legal challenges the CPI-M stands exposed.

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