TIRUNELVELI : Barely two weeks after it was sworn in, Tamil Nadu’s DMK government ordered that cases be dropped against 12 Muslim fundamentalists, all followers of Kichaan Buhari, an Al Umma sympathizer and key accused in the Coimbatore serial blasts.
Cases were registered against the 12 in 2000 and 2001 under IPC Sections 153 A (promoting enmity or hatred between different religious communities) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).
The six cases, relating to desecration of idols of Hindu deities in villages surrounding Melapalayam near Tirunelveli, were at the trial stage in the district court when the GO (MS No. 431 dated May 27, 2006) was issued by the state Home department, ordering the Tirunelveli district collector to drop the cases.
The accused, initially detained under the National Security Act, had obtained bail. Senior policemen in Tirunelveli are shocked by what they term the DMK government’s "blatant sympathy" for the Muslim fundamentalists.
"Obviously, the accused committed the offence with the grave intention to create law and order problems and disrupt peace in Tirunelveli district, known to be communally sensitive. Also, all of them have links with Muslim fundamentalist outfits. The government should have allowed the law to take its natural course. For a new government to resort to such a move is rather demoralising for the police force," said a senior police officer in Tirunelveli.
Police officials say that in one of the cases, Crime No. 15 of 2001 registered at the Melapalayam police station, while two of the five accused were juveniles and let off given their age, the other three, including M S Syed Mohammed Buhari, Sheik Hyed and Jafer Ali had "admitted to the offence". "Despite this, the government ordered the withdrawal of cases against them," an officer said.
The other cases include Crime Nos. 377, 378, 379, 380 and 391 of 2000, all relating to desecration of idols of Hindu deities in villages surrounding Melapalayam. Rasool Mohammed and eight others had been booked under Sections 153 A and 120 B of the IPC in all these cases.
According to the police officer, the offences were "committed with a motive to trigger communal unrest in the area" followed the murder of a local Muslim in KTC Nagar in Palayamkottai near Tirunelveli in 2000.
Tirunelveli, with its large concentration of Muslims, is considered a communally sensitive district. In fact, Palayamkottai was in the news in December last year when an e-mail threatening to bomb Parliament House was traced to a cyber cafe here. While several Muslims in the area were questioned, the police were unable to nab the person behind the threat mail.
There are also allegations that the ruling DMK was bending backwards to appease its electoral ally, the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK). A section of the police believe that the dropping of the six cases by the DMK government could be part of a pre-poll deal with the TMMK.