Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maudany: a life between cases and law-courts

By Najiya O.,,
Be it his first phase as the exciting orator who was political and religious leader, or his new phase of life as the calmed down political leader voicing for justice of the minorities and other backward sections of the society, Abdunnasir Maudany has always created news in Kerala. Now, again he is in news with the latest allegations of his involvement in the 2008 Bengaluru serial blast case. The man who has been in jail for about 10 years in connection with the Coimbatore blasts and was released after the court find him innocent has now been charged with conspiracy in the Bengaluru blast. The Karnataka police is now in Kerala and Maudany could be arrested any time.
When Maudany is on the verge of another jail term only three years after his release from the Coimbatore jail, let us have a look at the life of this man of news. How did the religious preacher and political leader end up as a suspect in blast and terrorism cases?
Abdunnasir Maudany was born as the son of Abdussamad Master in 1965. After formal education, he obtained the Maudany degree from the Ma’dinul Uloom Arabic College in Kollam. He continued his studies in the Jamia Nooriya Arabic College (run by EK Sunni faction) at Pattikkad in Malappuram. After the completion of his studies Maudany began to make religious speeches in different places especially in southern Kerala. He became a popular orator in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts. Maudany also worked with his father at the Anvarssery Orphanage which the latter founded in 1987. In the meantime, he married Soofiya and the couple has got two children – Salahudheen Ayyoubi and Omar Mukhthar.
Maudany came to limelight by his exciting, and often inflammatory, speeches which he made surrounded by his own team of guards to protect him. He was a religious preacher who had his own political views. The speech of this gifted orator attracted huge crowds. May be, this prompted him to the political field. Maudany first formed the Islamic Service Sangh in 1990, as an answer from the Muslim community to the RSS. It was a cadre organisation which gave high importance to martial arts and resistance. The ISS, combined with his speeches, gifted him several enemies and in 1992, Maudany lost his right leg in a bomb attack which was traced back to some RSS activists. It was known to be an attempt on his life. (After release from Coimbatore prison Maudany forgave his attackers.) The ISS was banned in the same year.

Abdunnasir Maudany [Photo by]
Maudany formed the People’s Democratic Party in 1993. The PDP was more like a political party of the minorities and other oppressed sections of the society. But, Maudany’s speeches remained the same. If the earlier speeches had a communal tinge, the new ones had a more political tinge. The PDP helped the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in several elections. Maudany used to make strong and exciting speeches and people flocked to hear him. But the huge crowds did not always turn into votes. Headed by Muslims, the PDP mainly aimed at Muslim votes but the Muslim League had already made up their strong vote-bank which none could break lose, especially in Malappuram district. The PDP had some support in southern Kerala, especially in Kollam district which was Maudany’s home district.
In Coimbatore jail
The Coimbatore serial blasts took place in November 1998. It was said to be an attempt to eliminate the then Home Minister and BJP leader LK Advani. The bomb exploded at an election campaign venue where Advani was to participate. Several people were arrested, mainly those associated with the Tamil group Al Umma. Maudany who already had a bad reputation for his inflammatory speeches was arrested by the Kerala police one night from his home. He was then handed over to the Tamil Nadu police. Maudany was accused to be one of the conspirators of the Coimbatore blast. But there was no evidence or proof other than the confessions of some of the accused. And there began Maudany’s life of nearly 10 years in prison. He was imprisoned in Coimbatore and Salem jails. Being a handicapped with other illnesses like hypertension and diabetes, Maudany requested for medical treatment in jail but was not reportedly provided good treatment. His artificial leg needed proper maintenance which could not be given in jail. He asked for Ayurvedic treatment but the treatment he got was not very helpful. Maudany’s wife and parents used to visit him in the beginning. Then he was in solitary confinement for nearly four years. Nobody could visit him at that time, not even his wife and children. When that phase ended and elections were on cards, political leaders also went to visit him. Though they tried to hide the visits from the media, the news was always leaked out. Letters were passed between Maudany and the leaders. At one time it would be leaders of the LDF and other times it was the United Democratic Front (UDF). Both sought his support during elections and forgot him after that. And thus he languished in the prison for nearly 10 years.
A jailed Maudany was a great comfort to many. The RSS and the Hindutva groups found an end to those inflammatory speeches which excited people against them. The Congress and Muslim League found a relief from the harsh attacks of Maudany, the strong speeches that attracted huge crowds. The LDF counted handing over Maudany to the Tamil Nadu police as one of the advantages of the government. Maudany was always a fundamentalist for the media. All celebrated the new plight of Maudany.
But there was a group of dedicated people including certain human rights activists who believed Maudany was framed in the Coimbatore case. They believed he was trapped in the case as he talked of Muslim-Dalit unity and the political uplift of the backward sections of the society. They knew he was a headache for all political parties and leaders. They provided legal help for Maudany. They collected funds to run the case from the common people in the state.
However, the people of Kerala did not forget the handicapped man languishing in jail for years as an under-trial without even a chargesheet against him. Some of the media brought the plight of Maudany into public attention and gradually, public opinion turned in his favour. The political parties which branded Maudany as communal had to bow down before the strong public demand for ensuring human rights to the Kerala leader suffering in Tamil Nadu jail. The Kerala Assembly passed a unilateral resolution demanding to ensure human rights to Maudany. Political leaders, of both the LDF in whose rule Maudany was arrested and handed over to Tamil Nadu and the UDF whose government stated in court that giving bail to Maudany would create law and order problems in the state, visited Maudany in jail. They approached the Tamil Nadu government with Maudany’s issue. At last, Maudany was released after the court found him innocent of the charges. The court declared him innocent but long ten years of his youthful life was already gone. The 40-year old weighed just around 40 kilograms when he came out of jail in August 2007.
After release
Maudany was given a huge welcome in Thiruvananthapuram where state ministers were present. Leaders representing several organizations were present at the programme. Then there was a list of welcoming programmes in Kozhikode, Ponnani, etc. People again swarmed to hear the fire-brand leader’s exciting speeches. However, the speech was still exciting but the tone and words were different. Maudany was a changed person after the jail term. He publicly apologized for the speeches he had made in the past which hurt the religious feelings of other communities. He promised to be a person of peace and calmness, though not compromising on the policy of Dalit-Muslim-backward classes’ unity through his political party. After some months of medical treatment, he started his political life at the Anvarssery Orphanage which now also serves as the main, though unofficial, centre of the PDP.

Maudany with CPI (M) general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan during 2009 general election campaign in Ponnani [Photo by]
The PDP gave support to the LDF in all the 20 constituencies in the 2009 Parliament elections. The party was like an ally of the CPI (M) in its campaigns. CPI (M) state general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan shared stage with Maudany in the election campaign in Ponnani constituency which brought a big hue and cry about the CPI (M) leaving its secular face and supporting communal forces. Interestingly, no such cry was heard when the same CPI (M) sought and received the support and votes of Raman Pilla and Uma Unni, both former fire-brands of the BJP. However, to the bad luck of Maudany and the CPI (M), the LDF could win only four seats in the election. Muslim League’s ET Muhammed Basheer won in a large margin in Ponnani where the CPI (M) had fielded Hussain Randathani (said to be Maudany’s nominee) snatching the seat from its ally CPI. The defeat of the LDF gave a huge boost to those forces which had vehemently opposed the CPI (M) keeping the PDP together.
During the election campaign news arose linking Maudany with terrorism. There was also news that Maudany’s wife Soofiya was associated with some terrorists. Soon, Soofiya was charged in the Kalamassery bus-burning case in which a bus of the Tamil Nadu Corporation was set fire at Kalamassery in Ernakulam. The police suspected it as the revenge of Maudany’s supporters at the continuous denial of bail to him. (But, actually the incident took place at a time when a bail plea of Maudany was being considered in a Tamil Nadu court.) Things got a new light when Thadiyantavide Naseer, suspected to be the commander in chief of the Lashkar e Toiba in South India, was arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to India. Naseer was reportedly involved in the Kalamassery bus-burning incident as well as the Bengaluru blasts along with several other cases in Kerala including the Kashmir terrorism case. Naseer is the prime accused in the Bengaluru blasts. Maudany and Soofiya were accused of having telephone conversations with Naseer. (Soofiya explains that she might have talked to him as many people had phoned her to know about Maudany’s conditions when he was in jail.)
Maudany was named 31st accused in the additional chargesheet filed in the Bengaluru blast case in early June. A Bengaluru court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Maudany who then submitted an anticipatory bail plea. The arrest warrant is being extended by the court as the police claim they had not been able to arrest him. The anticipatory bail plea was rejected by a Bengaluru court which prompted Maudany to approach the Karnataka High Court. The HC rejected Maudany’s plea on August 3 and the man had decided to approach the Supreme Court. The arrest warrant has again been extended till August 17. Maudany has now decided not to approach the Supreme Court when the Karnataka police is already in the state to arrest him, with the support and cooperation of the Kerala police. However, Maudany maintains he is innocent of the charges, at the same time promising to abide by the law. He reiterates his faith in Indian judiciary and says that he is ready to abide by the law, whatever be the court’s decision.
Naming Maudany in the chargesheet came nearly five months after Naseer was arrested. The police had reportedly said that evidence against Maudany was got from Naseer, but Naseer later denied it when he was taken out of the NIA court in Kochi. He blurted out to the media that he had not given any testimony against Maudany. The lawyers of Maudany claim that the case is framed up and the chargesheet has many contradictions. One of the witnesses who had lent his house to Maudany has reportedly filed a case against the Karnataka police of forcing him to sign a paper in which something was written in Kannada language which he didn’t know. The paper was reportedly presented by the police as the man’s testimony against Maudany. Another witness is Maudany’s own brother who says he had not been even approached by the Karnataka police. The chargesheet reportedly accuses Maudany of taking part in the terrorism camp organized by Naseer at Kudag in Karnataka. Maudany’s lawyers argue that it could not be possible as Maudany had state protection and was accompanied by police everywhere he went. Also, all travel details of Maudany were available with the state home department.
PDP leaders went on an indefinite fast satyagraha for ensuring justice to Maudany from June 16 to August 10. Certain human rights activists as well as leaders of Dalit and minority organizations also participated in the fast expressing solidarity. PDP activists and other supporters are flocking to Anvarsseri hearing the news of the arrival of the Karnataka police in the state. Even though Maudany has said that he was ready to court arrest, the PDP leaders and members are adamant that they won’t leave their leader to another indefinite jail term. Maudany also has expressed his fear that he might not come out of jail this time, unlike in the Coimbatore case, as the case has been very well planned enough not even to let him get an anticipatory bail.
In the midst of all these controversies, the mainstream media in Kerala is busy portraying Maudany and wife as terrorists. Political parties that used Maudany for electoral gains now wait for ‘the law to take its course’ (as said by Congress and Muslim League leaders). The government is ready to help the Karnataka police to arrest him. The mainstream cultural leaders too are keeping silent about the Maudany hunt. However, there are some human rights activists and other organizations that talk for Maudany – for ensuring justice to the man who has suffered the clutches of delayed justice. They say that whether Maudany has done wrong or not, human rights and justice should be ensured. And the law should take the right course.

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