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TN terror accused's day in court

A Ganesh Nadar in Tirunelveli | August 11, 2008 20:07 IST

Abdul Ghafur being brought to the Tirunelveli court
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Three suspected terrorists -- Abdul Ghafur, Heera and Ali Abdullah -- arrested in connection with the plot to blow up trains in Chennai and Tirunelveli -- were brought before the fourth Judicial Magistrate D Selvam in the Tirunelveli court on Monday. They had been in police custody for 10 days.

They were sent to three different jails. Abdul Ghafur will be sent to the Central Jail in Palayamcottai, Tirunelveli, Heera will be sent to the Madurai [Images] Jail and Ali Abdullah to the jail in Chennai.

Ali Abdullah is serving a life sentence in a blast case. Abdullah, a former member of the Islamic Defence Force and All India Jihad Committee, is still undergoing trial in at least seven other cases.

Syed Kasim alias Heera is a man charged with selling stolen jewels and also an accused in a case of conspiracy to murder Hindu Munani Leader Ramagopalan.

Abdul Ghafur has never been arrested before and worked in a shoe shop in Chennai.

They were brought to the jail at 5 pm on Monday, which is the normal time for the court to close. They were brought with heavy police bandobast.

This did not stop enthusiastic journalists from taking photographs. The judge asked them individually whether they had a lawyer visiting them every two days and also a doctor. He wanted to know whether they had been tortured physically or mentaly? Whether there were any wounds of scars on them while in custody? Whether they had been given proper meals? If they had been taken out of the district? And if they wanted to say anything else?

Before the judge entered the court, Heera and Ali Abdullah were in good spirits and laughing intermittently. Only Abdul Ghafur had a gaunt and sad face.

It was Abdul Ghafur's turn first. He said the doctor had treated him for some minor ailment and he had not been mistreated. His lawyer had visited him once after five days. He had been questioned in this district only. He had proper meals. The only word of discord was "Assistant Commisioner Murugesan threatened me."

The judge did not ask him how he was threatened and Ghafur did not elaborate.

Heera said his parents were there and he wanted to speak to them. The judge told the police, "Let them meet him in this court room after everyone leaves for 10 minutes." Heera did not have any problems with the cops or with the doctor. His lawyer too had met him once in five days.

When the judge mentioned that he was going to be moved to the jail in Madurai he put up a spirited defence, "Here my parents can visit me. How can they come to Madurai? They are old."

The judge said he could ask again on August 25 in court. Heera did not let go. "Then tell them to take me to Madurai tomorrow morning. Let me spend the night in Palayamcottai." The judge smiled. "Once I pass the order they will take you straight from this court. I have already allowed you to meet your parents," the judge said.

Ali Abdullah also did not have any complaints against the police, food or the doctor. All he had to say was "I have nothing to do with this case. I don't know why they brought me here. Please send me to Tiruchi jail as a lot of my relatives are there."

The judge replied, "You can be kept here or sent back to the Chennai jail from where you were brought here. You cannot choose a third jail. That option is not there for you."

Ali Abdullah was happy to go back to the Chennai jail where he had been living since 1997.

Meanwhile, three bomb hoaxes have scared Tirunelveli. Even on August 11 there was a bomb scare at a local school. The school was vacated and no bombs were found. But the scare was enough reason for parents to rush to their school and take their children home.

The Tirunelveli Commisioner of Police N Manjunatha said he wanted to assure parents that they should not believe rumours and they were there to deal with any situation. He also instructed teachers on precautionary measures.

Speaking to he said, "What we know about these three, you all know. There is nothing more. They are not connected to any other ring anywhere. We are still looking at all the people who have been in touch with them on the phone. The entire investigation will take another two months."

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