It pays to share a prison with a VIP in Tamil Nadu.
On Sunday, about 750 prisoners of Coimbatore jail, including 160 arrested for the 1998 serial blasts, enjoyed the pleasures of an Ayurvedic massage.
The reason: in July, Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had intervened to ensure Abdul Nasser Madhani, leader of the Kerala PDP party and the fourth accused in the serial blasts, got a 35-day Ayurvedic treatment worth Rs 50,000. Sunday’s treat was an attempt to prove that such luxury was de rigeur in Tamil Nadu prisons.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi had sanctioned the treatment for Madhani. But when rival Jayalalithaa turned on the heat, prison authorities arranged the Sunday camp.
The incident is among a list of events that show the DMK government's soft stance towards Muslim fundamentalists. Two weeks after assuming power, the DMK government dropped cases against 12 Muslim fundamentalists of Melaplayam in Tirunevleli district.
The men had connections to Al Umma leader Kichaan Buhari, a key accused in the Coimbatore blasts and were charged of desecrating Hindu idols in and around their town.
They were being tried under IPC Sections 153 A (promoting enmity or hatred between different religious communities) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy). Six cases had been booked when the DMK was ruling in 2000 and three of the accused had admitted to the crime during interrogation.
The sudden transfer of a police officer who on July 22 foiled and unveiled a possible serial blast in Coimbatore has also raised doubts if the DMK is caving in to pressure from parties like the Tamil Nadu Muslim Unnetra Kazhagam.
Five members of MNP, a Muslim outfit had been arrested with materials for IED and maps marked with places in Coimbatore.
TMMK state secretary E Ummar, however, claimed that subsequent investigations by another police team
revealed the July case had been fabricated.
“The case was publicised to coincide with budget day just to discredit the DMK government,” he said.