Chennai: In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that three banned terrorists from the Al-Umma outfit, lodged in Puzhal prison, planned to carry out terror acts while incarcerated, with the assistance of a recently released inmate. Panna Ismail from Melapalayam, Tirunelveli district, and Bilal Malik from Nelpettai, Madurai, both key members of the now-defunct Al-Ummah terror group, had been involved in the 1998 Coimbatore serial bombings targeting BJP leader L K Advani.
The incidents involving the killings of prominent political figures in Tamil Nadu raised concerns for public safety. The murder of Dr. Arvinth Reddy in 2012, the then state medical wing secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the hacking death of former BJP municipal councillor Murugan K had already added to the growing sense of insecurity.
Even within the high-security walls of the Puzhal Central jail, the banned Al-Ummah members have been living lavishly, consuming specially prepared delicacies such as their favourite biriyani. When approached by prison officials for different offences, including holding mobile phones, drugs, and firearms, they have also engaged in riot-like events in order to gain media attention and depict themselves as victims of political vendettas.
Disturbingly, the three terrorists, along with a criminal named Saravanan, have been using the prison as their base to plan and coordinate terror activities. Reports indicate that they have been in contact with individuals outside the prison, plotting the assassination of key leaders from the BJP, RSS, Hindu Munnani, and other Sangh Parivar organisations in the state. They have even contemplated attacking visiting foreign leaders and VVIPs in India. To fund their nefarious schemes, they have engaged in money laundering and hawala operations, acquiring the necessary resources to carry out their sinister plans.
The intelligence agencies have been sounding the alarm about the regrouping of terror elements after a change in government, making the revelations about the inside jail conspiracy all the more alarming.
The DMK government has been seriously considering the premature release of Muslim prisoners who have been incarcerated for over 25 years on health grounds, which has added to the complexity of the situation. Reports suggest that the Tamil Nadu government is seriously contemplating their demand and may announce a decision before the Lok Sabha polls.
The recent decision of the Supreme Court to permit People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Abdul Nasser Madani, an accused in the Bengaluru blast case, to return to Kerala for treatment has sparked debates about the judiciary’s leniency and compassionate grounds in handling such cases. Critics argue that some court orders seem to favour release, acquittal, or enlargement on bail without fully considering the risks faced by law enforcement agencies such as the police, NIA, and CBI in apprehending these individuals.
These developments have become a bone of contention among the common people, with some expressing concerns about what they perceive as minority appeasement. They point to several recent court orders, including out-of-turn, odd-hour bail hearings for figures like Teesta Setalvad in a case related to the fabrication of evidence during the 2002 Gujarat riots and Manipur incidents.