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Coimbatore blasts case accused nabbed
By AM Abdussalam September 12, 2018
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KOZHIKODE: Tamil Nadu CBI-CID police on Monday arrested an accused in the 1998 serial blasts in Coimbatore that claimed 58 lives, after 20 years. NP Noohu alias Mankavu Rasheed, 44, was on the run ever since investigators mounted a massive hunt for the culprits. He was picked up by a Special Investigation Division of the Tamil Nadu Police, an official release said on Tuesday. Based on a ‘specific intelligence input’, Rasheed, who was residing abroad for the last 20 years, was arrested, the release said. Rasheed, a native of Mankavu near here, had been declared a as a ‘proclaimed offender’ by a court.

Rasheed was taken to Chennai and presented in the court after questioning. Charges under IPC sections 302, 307, 449, 465 were imposed on him. Police said that he had played a prominent role in the explosion. He had fled to Qatar after the bomb blasts.

A series of blasts rocked Coimbatore city on February 14, 1998, during the visit of Union Minister for Home LK Advani in connection with an election meeting. The explosions resulted in the death of 58 people and caused a loss of around Rs140 million. Blasts were also heard at the venue where an election meeting of Advani was slated to take place.

In 2007, the special court convicted 53 accused including SA Basha, the founder of banned terrorist outfit, Al Umma, in the 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts cases. Abdul Nasser Ma’adani, chairman of Kerala-based People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was acquitted of all the charges. Ma’adani was exonerated of all charges including conspiracy to trigger serial blasts in Coimbatore on February 14, shortly before the then Home Minister LK Advani was to address election meetings in the city. Out of 60 judgements given, Judge K Uthirpathy pronounced that charges of criminal conspiracy have been proved against 53 including Basha.

The special investigation team argued that the blasts were part of conspiracy to eliminate Advani during his visit on that day, in retaliation to the killing of 17 Muslims as a fall out of the murder of a traffic constable, Selvaraj on November 29, 1997.

Apart from injuring 200 people, the blasts also caused a property loss worth over Rs140 million in the industrial city.

The SIT of Tamil Nadu CBCID, which probed the cases, argued that the blasts carried out under the title Operation Allahu Akbar, was part of the conspiracy to eliminate the top leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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