Convicts belonging to the banned terrorist organisation al-Ummah, who are serving life sentence in the Coimbatore Central Prison for the 1998 blasts in the city, are "in league" with a few Tamil Nadu policemen working there, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has complained.
In a letter to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary, Director-General of Police and the Prison Department Additional Director-General of Police, BJP’s Coimbatore unit president R Nanda Kumar pointed out that the al-Ummah is a banned organisation and the policemen were allegedly indulging in anti-social activities joining hands with them.
Kumar told Swarajya that he had sent the complaint after getting information of the happenings inside the Central Prison by those who had gone and returned from there.
"What all we heard from those who visited the prison, we have presented them in our letter to the higher-ups," he said.
The 14 February 1998 Coimbatore blasts, triggered by al-Ummah, was meant to be an attempt on life of senior BJP leader L K Advani when he came to the city in connection with the 1998 Lok Sabha elections.
A series of blasts rocked the textile city in which at least 60 people were killed and over 200 injured. Police arrested 167 persons in connection with the blasts, also carried out reportedly to avenge the death of 18 Muslims in the city during November-December 1997.
While eight persons, including the prime accused Abdul Nazar Madhani, were acquitted in the case, 43 others were sentenced to life. Seventy persons were handed out imprisonments ranging from seven to 13 years.
A majority of the 43 al-Ummah convicts are serving their life terms in the Coimbatore Central Prison.
Kumar complained that four policemen, in particular, had developed “close relations” with the convicts and were holding joint prayers with members of the banned organisation, besides smuggling in laptops and mobile phones into the prison to help them.
These policemen were also bringing funds from outside for these convicts apart from other illegal materials and threatening some inmates.
“We learn that these policemen are indulging in anti-national activities,” alleged Kumar in his letter, adding that they had been “brainwashed”. He sought strong action against the policemen concerned.
In September last year, the Times of India reported that seven mobile phones were seized from Coimbatore Central Prison during a surprise check. The seizure included four mobiles from the high-security block where the al-Ummah convicts are lodged.
Though banned, the al-Ummah is still active with its activists reportedly planning attacks on senior BJP leaders and indulging in murders.
In particular, the organisation made another attempt on Advani in 2011 on the outskirts of Madurai by planting pipe bombs when he was on his ‘Chetna Yatra’.
Convicts of al-Ummah enjoying hospitality in Tamil Nadu prisons is nothing new.
In September 2018, prison officials seized television sets, radios, ceiling fans, DVDs, beds, cots, chairs, curtains, washed clothes, costly shoes and coolers from the cells of al-Ummah activists lodged in Chennai Central Prison at suburban Puzhal.
M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani
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