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35 more sentenced for Coimbatore blasts
Tribune News Service

Chennai, October 8
Nine years after serial blasts ripped Coimbatore, 500 km from here, 35 more people were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from nine months to seven years by a special court today amidst tight security.

The court had on September 28 sentenced 41 people for their involvement in the 1998 serial bomb blasts in the city on the eve of BJP leader L.K. Advani’s election meeting there.

However, special judge K. Uthirapathi, ordered their release as they had already spent the terms as undertrials.

They had been charged with various offences, including attempt to murder, rioting, arson and possession of explosives.

The fundamentalist outfit Al-Umma and a huge contingent of Islamic activists, some of them forming a suicide squad, were behind a conspiracy to kill Advani on February 14, 1998, and also avenge the death of 18 Muslims in communal riots in Coimbatore in the last two months of 1997.

The serial blasts not only killed and injured people but destroyed property worth more than Rs 15 crore and shocked the entire south India as it revealed the extensive network of the Al-Umma and its conspiracy.

The Tamil Nadu police special investigation team probing the blasts said Al-Umma carried out the operation codenamed “Operation Allah Ho Akbar” to avenge the death of Muslims in an earlier communal riot and assassinate Advani because of his alleged involvement in the demolition of the Babri mosque.

The then Dradiva Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government did not initiate any action though there was a specific tip-off from the Central intelligence agencies about the conspiracy to and carry out police raids to seize huge amounts of explosives hidden in many areas at Coimbatore town.

Instead, after the blasts, the DMK tried to make the Coimbatore police commissioner the scapegoat.

Despite a demand for a CBI probe, Karunanidhi refused and handed the case to the CB-CID of Tamil Nadu police.

More than 200 people were arrested and the trial which began only in 2002 examined around 1,300 witnesses.

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