Proud to be an anti national


We live in a dangerous India today. Kalmadi seems to belong to that ideological school – a new, scary trend in this country – which labels anyone and everyone as anti-national if they dare to “question the system”. You protest against killing of innocent people by security forces, you are anti-national. You protest against a dam, you are anti-national. You protest against real estate mafia grabbing agricultural land, you are anti-national. You protest against the displacement of tribals from their land, you are anti-national. You protest against raping of women by army men, you are anti-national. You speak against wastage of public funds, you are anti-national. So even if it means I am going to be branded an anti national I thought I should write for this man in my blog.

He lost his right leg in a bomb attack in 1992. He is hypertensive and acutely diabetic. His upper body is restricted by chronic spondylosis. He was arrested on 8 April 1998 in connection with 1998 Coimbatore seriel blasts in which 60 people were killed. He was imprisoned for nine and half years in Coimbatore prison without any trial or bail. For five of those years, there wasn’t even a chargesheet. When his trial did begin, he was prevented from attending most hearings on the grounds that his presence in court would be a threat to law and order. He was denied parole to attend his mother’s last rites. He was denied bail for treatment that he urgently needed (for high blood pressure, diabetics and spondylosis), while in jail, unlike the dubious fakers who complain about every possible illness, to beat the law.  He was finally released on August 1, 2007 after being acquitted of all charges. He is now arrested for complicity in 2008 Bangalore serial blasts by the Karnataka Police.

What is so special about Abdul Nasar Madani, 45, President of Kerala’s People’s Democratic Party that someone should be so keen to keep him locked up?

For that I would have to tell you about the days in 1993 when I worked in Network Television as a Stringer Journalist which produced a small half an hour current affairs program in Asianet, the Malayalam Channel called “Kannadi”. It was positioned as poor mans “World This Week”.  Having heard of the fiery speeches of Madani, through recorded cassette tapes which were clandestinely distributed, the NTV team decided to interview him and I accompanied the unit. Madani had in the past been charged for inflammatory speeches and had police cases against him for the same, including one at Kozhikode in 1992.

The interview at Madani’s Ernakulam residence was experience of a lifetime. There was a calm around this handsome bearded man in crutches, as he spoke to the Kannadi’s anchor journalist T N Gopakumar in a composed manner. After the interview we accompanied to a public rally and we were shocked to see a huge transformation. It was oratory at its best. 

The moment Madani got on the podium, he was spitting venom against every political party, every news paper and generally against our great Indian hypocrisy. But lot of what he said made a lot of sense to the more knowledgeable people of Kerala. He could strike a cord with every middle class Keralite. It looked as though the draught in Muslim leadership in the country was over. Here was a leader who would stand up for his people.

After we had enough sound bites recorded what our boss Lenn B Jesmas’s said, still rings in my ears “This guy will not go too far. It is a question the Muslim Leadership and the Muslim League will not allow him to grow”. But with all due respect to Lenn’s journalistic assessment, I know now that Madani had more enemies than the Muslim League. The Muslim League sure was frightened by Madani, as they saw its sway in Kerala’s Muslim heartland of Malabar, deteriorate.

Madani had by then built a bit reputation as dissenter. He mocked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by floating the Islamic Seva Sangh (ISS). Following the Babri Masjid demolition on 6th Dec 1992, Madani launched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the stated objective of “Muslim-Dalit-backward caste” alliance. The same year, Madani became the target of an assassination attempt, allegedly by Hindu right wing activists, in which he lost his right leg. The ISS, though banned (in 1993) and the PDP managed to tease and rankle the RSS. The PDP, among other things, strongly and repeatedly condemned the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The Congress Government in Kerala under Karunakaran and the opposition CPM was also miffed because in the 1991 elections Madani refused support either of the alliances.

In February 1998, a series of blasts rocked Coimbatore, the city known as Manchester of  South India. The BJP was in saddle at the Centre and Jayalalitha (an ally of the BJP then), in Tamil Nadu, then. The Coimbatore explosions were projected as an attempt to kill the second Iron man of India, Home Minister L.K. Advani. Arrests followed, dozens of them. Suspects are picked up and thrown in jail, the more the merrier. Madani, a long time enemy of the RSS, was also among those interned. Why? Because one of the accused named him as conspirator. No proof, no evidence, just an individual’s confession, whose validity in Indian law was entirely dubious.

Nothing was heard of the accused number 14 for years, save that he is in Coimbatore jail. The Tamil Nadu police dilly-dallies and delays. Year piles on year, yet no chargesheet. Madani is still in jail for a crime that nobody can prove. Procedure after procedure, statute after statute is violated, until it begins to appear that the law stands in violation of Madani rather than the other way round. Finally after 5 years, after court raps a charge sheet was filed. Madani was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code – spreading communal hatred, criminal conspiracy and sedition.

Jayalalithaa’s government, it appeared, was set itself on keeping Madani in Coimbatore in order to please its ally BJP. Under the influence of Muslim League the Karunakaran or Antony Government and the Nayanar Government which came to power in 1996, wouldn’t help Madani’s cause either. For the majority of nine and half year incarceration, the Government of Kerala’s official position was Madani’s entry into his home state would create a communal situation. But the 2006 Elections, through a secret understanding with PDP, V S Achuthanandan’ saw his fortunes turning green in the muslim dominated northern part of Kerala. After the elections the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution for Madani’s release.

Finally after spending 3390 days of lonely life in jail without legal sanction and without any trial, Madani was  indicted of all charges and released from Coimbatore jail on 01 August 2007.

Now the Karnataka Government, the first BJP Government in the South of India, is continuing the witch hunt. This time too there is no proof. Again one of the accused in the Bangalore Serial blast case has named Madani a conspirator. The Karnataka Police claims that Madani was associated with Laskar-e-Toiba’s South Indian commander Thadiyantavide Naseer, the prime accused in 2008 Bangalore serial blasts, 2006 Kozhikode twin blasts and other cases related to recruitment of Muslim youth as terrorists.

The Karnataka Police claims that Naseer confessed to police that he met Madani before the serial blasts in Bangalore and discussed plans. Madani’s wife Sufiya Madani was arrested on terror charges in the Kalamassery bus arson case, which was choreographed by Naseer and for complicity in the serial blasts.

However this time around Madani has been charge-sheeted in the case in June 2009 itself.  But then, is there something called the law too which is meant to be above all of this politics? Am sure only Justice Krishna Iyer is listening.

Photo : Copyright with Rediff.com

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    • Vasudevan Nair
    • August 24th, 2010

    Hey man I liked your article. While the BJP is continuing the witch hunt the Left Front government in Kerala is in a dilemma over the arrest of Madani. The Karnataka High Court has rejected the PDP leaders bail application and Left is wary of the political consequence of the arrest. Bookmarked.

    – Vasudevan

    • Surajit Mitra
    • August 25th, 2010

    Gosh what a statement, your title. But after reading your article I too am proud to be an anti-national.

    • ramalingam ramaswamy
    • September 17th, 2010

    Karnataka Home Minister V S Acharya had to eat his own words on the alleged involvement of PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani in the bomb blasts near the Chinnaswamy Stadium in April this year during IPL, after investigators refused to corroborate his statement.

    BJP sure is on a witch hunt. Madani has really taunted them for a long time.

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