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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Sentencing in the Kalamassery bus burning terrorist case begins

A National Investigative Agency (NIA) court in Kerala pronounced 39 years and six months of rigorous imprisonment for the first accused,  Thadiyantavida Nazeer, and the fifth accused, Sabir Buhari, in the Kalamassery bus burning case. The seventh accused, Thajudin, was also sentenced to 35 years. On July 28, the court ruled that all three terrorists were guilty.

According to the court, the inquiry proved that the accused had joined a criminal conspiracy to “wage war, strike terror, and damage government property in revenge for the arrest of Abdul Nazar Madani” in the first week of September 2005. On September 8, 2005, the accused met at the Aluva Masjid near Ernakulam to “lay out their plan at the instance and instigation of defendants Majid Parambai and Sufia, to set fire to a Tamil Nadu government-owned bus.”

Madani is a Muslim extremist facing charges of organizing terrorist activities and is sponsored by terrorist organizations, including the Pakistani ISI and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He made inflammatory speeches and enjoyed the support of many political parties which aimed to benefit from Muslim sympathy and grab votes. Many Kerala Muslims consider him a ‘hero’.

In 1992, Madani launched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the demolition of Babri Masjid. If Madani is the Osama bin Laden of the PDP, then Nazeer is his man Friday, Ayman al Zawahiri. In 1998, Madani allegedly collaborated with Tamil Nadu-based radical Islamists and masterminded the Coimbatore bombings in which 60 people were killed, and over 200 were injured. Twelve bomb blasts in 11 places, all within a 12 km radius, rocked the city. 

Investigators found out that the blasts were a part of a larger conspiracy to target L.K. Advani at his 4 pm election meeting. One of the bombs went off just a few feet from the podium where Advani was to conduct his election rally. The serial bomb blasts began at 3.50 pm, and the last one blew up at 10 pm. Though the senior RSS leader escaped unscathed, most victims were Hindus.

Gelatin sticks activated by timer devices were used as explosives. They were concealed in cars, motorcycles, bicycles, sideboxes of two-wheelers, bags, and fruit carts. Several bombs that failed to detonate were defused by bomb disposal squads of the Army and National Security Guards. 

In April 2000, Madani was arrested in connection with the Coimbatore bombings and was imprisoned for eight years. He was released in August 2007 after being acquitted of all charges. For over 24 years now, Mujibur Rahman and Tailor Raja, two Islamist extremists involved in the 1998 Coimbatore blast in Tamil Nadu, have been absconding.

The Godhra incident, where a whole train filled with Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers were burnt alive by Islamists, did not satisfy Madani’s blood thirst. ISI foot soldiers planned and executed serial blasts in cities like Ahmedabad, Delhi, Varanasi, and Mumbai.  

On September 9, 2005, a Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation bus was set on fire, demanding the release of the terrorist Madani, who was in jail in the Coimbatore blast case. 

Six terrorists, including Nazeer, got on the bus from Ernakulam, while Thajudin, Nazar, and Anoop waited at Kalamassery on three motorcycles. As the bus approached the Kalamassery Municipal Office, one of the suspects pointed a gun at the driver’s face. The accused took control of the bus and its passengers before ordering the driver to take them to a remote location close to the HMT Colony.

Once there, the terrorists ordered the occupants to exit the vehicle. They burned the bus by lighting cotton waste doused in petrol and escaped the crime scene. The incident happened around 9.30 pm.

In addition to imprisonment, Naseer has been ordered to pay a fine of Rs.1,75,000 and Thajudin Rs.1,10,000. The NIA had filed a charge sheet accusing the terrorists of sedition. All three confessed before the NIA court and pleaded guilty. In July 2021, the court sentenced KA Anoop, a native of Paravur, to six years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1,60,000.

There were thirteen accused in the case, including PDP leader Madani’s wife, Sufia. One of the accused terrorists had already died. The trial of the rest of the accused has not been completed.

The court sentenced 39.5 years of imprisonment under IPC and UAPA. The accused will undergo maximum punishment, meaning that Naseer and Sabir will have to serve seven years, and Tajuddin will have to serve six years in prison. 

The original charge sheet was filed in December 2010, and the trial began in 2019. Statements of eight people, including the bus driver, were recorded, but those files went missing. There are allegations that the terrorists and their paymasters are trying to save Sufia. 

In May, the Kerala High Court upheld the life sentence granted to Nazeer and nine other defendants in the 2006 Kashmir terror recruitment case. Young radicalized Keralite Muslims were enlisted and given weapons training to wage war against Bharat. 

Abdul Aziz, alias Wali, a citizen of Pakistan, was the mastermind of the Kashmir recruitment case and various serial blasts. According to the charge sheet, he had arranged funds and logistics to carry out the anti-national operations in Bharat. It was done through a rich Oman-based sympathizer of the terrorist group. 

Five jihadis from the backwaters of Kerala crossed over into Pakistan through the Jammu & Kashmir border for LeT weapons training. Four of them were killed by our security forces, while one lingers in jail. A pan-Islamic network of jihadis from Bharat, Pakistan, and many gulf countries exists. 

For his part in the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts, which left one person dead and 20 others injured, as well as for similar instances in Ahmedabad, Surat, and Jaipur, Madani is detained in the Karnataka jail and under court supervision. This case relates to the series of explosions in Bengaluru on July 25, 2008, leaving two people dead and numerous others injured. The explosions used a total of nine low-intensity homemade bombs.

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