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Charges framed in serial blast case

Coimbatore: The Special Court, designated to try the Serial Blast cases, on 23 Oct framed charges against all 167 Al-Umma undertrials. This sets in motion the trial in the most blood- chilling horror in the history of Tamil Nadu after more than three years. // The Special Court judge, Mr. A. Selvam, after framing the charges, adjourned the case to November 27, when the examination of witnesses is likely to take place. All the accused, including S.A. Batcha, Mohammed Ansari and Abdul Nasser Madani, were produced before the court, amid tight security. Riaz-Ur-Rehman, who turned an approver, was also produced. The charges included pre-planned unlawful assembly with deadly weapons under Sections 147, 148 and 149 of the IPC, conspiracy (120 B), murder (302), attempt to murder (307), causing grievous injuries (326), possession of deadly weapons (427) and offences under various sections of the Arms Act and the Tamil Nadu Explosives Substances Act. The charges were read out in the respective languages of the accused which included Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. The textile city was ripped by serial blasts on February 14, 1998, when the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, was scheduled to campaign here. Apart from claiming 57 lives, it maimed about 200 persons. The blasts was considered a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists against the lynching of 17 Muslim youths in Coimbatore on November 30, 1997 close on the heels of the murder of a traffic constable, R. Selvaraj, by a few Al-Umma cadre. Besides damage to property, the blasts also affected trade and industry causing a serious economic setback. The city police, in their encounter with Al-Umma extremists at Thirumal Street, arrested a few while some were killed. This was registered as crime no. 151 of the B-1 police station which formed the genesis of investigation into the serial blasts. The case was subsequently transferred to the CB-CID which created a Special Investigation Team (SIT). The SIT sleuths and the special teams of the city police effected the arrest of a number of ultras which lasted several months. Due to the laborious exercise required for going ahead with the prosecution, the SIT detained many of the ultras under the National Security Act and nearly after one year the chargesheet was filed before the Judicial Magistrate Court no. 5. The police, who managed to bring 168 to book, are still on the hunt for three more persons. q

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