Supporters of People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Abdul Nasser Mahdhani came out on the streets across Kerala on Wednesday to celebrate his acquittal in the 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts.
Mahdhani is expected to be released on Thursday morning and will be brought to Thiruvananthapuram by a helicopter. The ailing Mahdhani will be taken to hospital immediately for treatment, sources close to him said.
The Coimbatore blasts on Feb 14, 1998, during the then deputy prime minister LK Advani's election tour there, had killed 58 people and injured 250. It had caused loss of property worth Rs 140 million.
Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Mahdhani would be given protection when he arrives in the state.
Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy expressed happiness over his acquittal.
Mahdhani's wife, Sufiya, said she was thankful to god for the clean chit to her husband and the verdict "was on expected lines".
"It has been our prayer (his release) for several years and Allah is great, he has heard our prayers. We are really delighted," she said.
PDP working chairman Poonthura Siraj, who was in Coimbatore to meet his leader, said that their prime concern now was to get Mahdhani back to good health.
"He has been suffering in the last nearly nine-and-a-half years that he was in Coimbatore jail. He has lost more than 50 kg. We are also concerned about his security. We have asked all supporters to ensure that celebrations do not cross limits," said Siraj.
Meanwhile, counsel for Mahdhani Ahmed Kabir said he had to get a release order.
"Once that is received then it would be sent to the jail for his release. If there is a delay in the order then the court can give him bail till then," said Kabir.
Mahdhani's release has come as a major relief to authorities in Kerala who had launched a massive security drive in major bus and railway stations ahead of the verdict.
Now all eyes are on the political stand that Mahdhani takes. He directed his followers to vote for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the 2006 assembly polls.
However, Mahdhani still has 18 other cases registered against him in various courts in Kerala, though all these cases have by now been transferred to the court of an additional chief judicial magistrate in Kochi.