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01 August, 2007

Mahdani acquitted after more than nine years in prison

After Abdul Naser Mahdani spent nine years and four months in jail as an undertrial prisoner in the Coimbatore bomb blast case, a Coimbatore court has acquitted him of all charges.

A fiery orator, Mahdani, who is Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party of Kerala, was the victim of a conspiracy by political opponents.

Mahdani, whose fledgling party mounted a formidable challenge to the Indian Union Muslim League, was arrested by the Kerala police on March 31, 1998, in connection with a case registered against him a few years earlier. He was not sent up for trial in that case. Instead, he was handed over to the Tamil Nadu police for trial in the Coimbatore blast case. The Left Democratic Front, which was in power at that State, is believed to have acted against him to placate the Muslim League with a view to weaning it away from the opposition United Democratic Front.

The blast case was a sequel to explosions which killed 58 persons in Coimbatore on the day L. K. Advani, then Union Home Minister, landed there. The bomb blasts were apparently in retaliation for a combined assault by the police and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers a few days earlier, in which 17 Muslims were killed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which was in power at the Centre, and J. Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which was in power in Tamil Nadu, used the blast case and Mahdani’s alleged involvement in it for their own purposes.

Mahdani, who had lost a leg in a bomb attack by RSS men in Kerala, was denied bail and parole throughout the period of investigation and trial, which went on at a slow pace. On July 31 the judge started delivering the judgment. By noon he had given his verdict on 65 of the accused. Mahdani was the only one among them who was acquitted.

Please see “Mahdani case: a human rights perspective” and “A man on the Malayalee conscience

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