Kollam (Kerala): Ending the eight-day long suspense, PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani was on Tuesday arrested amid high drama from his camp here by the Karnataka Police in connection with the 2008 Bangalore blast case.
Hours before the deadline set by the Bangalore court was to expire, a Karnataka Police team executed the non-bailable arrest warrant as Madani emerged from his orphanage-cum-madrassa complex at Anwarassery here.
Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police Omkarayya executed the warrant against Madani with the support of Kerala Police shortly after the PDP leader said he would be surrendering in a local magistrate court.
As Madani came out in a vehicle from his camp after mid-day prayers, a heavy contingent of Kerala Police in riot gear blocked the vehicle to facilitate the Karnataka officials to effect the arrest.
The police then took charge of the vehicle allowing only Madani's wife Soofiya and a personal aid to remain with the PDP leader.
Kollam SP Harshita Attalluri, who was leading the Kerala Police team, told reporters gathered in large numbers at the spot that Madani had been arrested by Karnataka Police.
The entire exercise took place without any immediate law and order problem except some slogan shouting by supporters hailing their leader and women and inmates of the orphanage weeping.
Madani was taken to Thiruvananthapuram en route to Bangalore by air so that he could be produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate there this evening itself.
Madani was listed as the 31st accused in an additional chargesheet filed by the police last month after confessions by suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba operative T Nazir linking him to the Bangalore blasts that left one person dead and 20 others injured.
A Karnataka Police team has been camping here for the last eight days waiting for the nod from the local police for the arrest of Madani, whose anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the Karnataka High Court on August 3.
Madani had earlier in the day told reporters that he would surrender before a local court this afternoon after mid-day prayers with the orphanage inmates.
Maintaining that he was falsely implicated in the case as part of "a deep-rooted conspiracy", Madani said he wanted to surrender as he had faith in the judiciary and also he could record whatever he wanted to say in the court. Madani has moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on his arrest in the case.
The PDP leader was also an accused in the 1998 Coimbatore serial bomb blast case in which 58 people were killed and over 200 injured hours before an election meeting to be addressed by senior BJP leader L K Advani. He was acquitted later by the trial court.
Two police officers from Bangalore had come to Kerala a week ago with the warrant, after the PDP leader's anticipatory plea was rejected by the Karnataka High Court.
Madani's Anwarassery camp has been witnessing high drama and suspense since last Saturday with the state police sending forces there creating the impression that the arrest was imminent. But the matter dragged on in view of the security situation on the eve of the Independence Day and the then three-day visit of President Pratibha Patil to the state.
On Sunday, Madani himself stated at a press meet that he preferred to surrender in a court instead of arrest. The issue gained momentum with two senior police officials from Karnataka arriving yesterday and making it clear that they could no longer wait indefinitely as they were bound to complete the legal process.
After a blame game between the two states, an understanding between Kerala and Karnataka on executing the warrant was reached last night leaving no other option for the PDP leader, who had raised the issue of his health.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Madani, an accused in 2008 Bangalore serial blasts case, to apply for a regular bail as he has already been arrested. A bench of Justices Markandey Katju and T S Thakur also said that Madani can apply for an interim bail before the competent court, which shall be considered on the same day. It said the competent court shall not be influenced by any of the observations made by the Karnataka High Court while dismissing his anticipatory bail on August 3. The apex court said Madani's anticipatory cannot be considered as he has already been arrested. The state counsel Sanjay Hegde informed the bench about his arrest in the afternoon.
Earlier, senior counsel Pinaki Mishra, appearing for the accused, alleged that Madani was arrested "to frustrate" his efforts in seeking anticipatory bail. He claimed that though the non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Madani was issued on June 11, his arrest was effected only today to pre-empt his anticipatory bail. The counsel further submitted that under section 43-D the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act, the grant of regular bail would also become difficult for the accused.
However, the apex court declined to entertain further argument on the issue and said the counsel can raise his grievances before the appropriate court at the time of applying for the regluar/interim bail. The bench clarified that the court concerned was bound to hear the plea for interim bail on the same day as per the number of rulings laid down by it on earlier occasions.
The High Court had described the blasts as a "terrorist act" and said it was rejecting the bail plea considering the seriousness of the alleged offences committed by Madani. The High Court had said the offences committed by Madani came very much under the purview of the Act and, therefore, "in view of the internal security and interests of the nation," the plea was being rejected. A fast track court had on July 9 dismissed Madani's anticipatory bail plea on the ground that there was "no prima facie case" to grant him relief. A chargesheet has been filed against Madani and 31 others for their alleged involvement in the blasts in Bangalore that left a woman dead and 20 injured on July 25, 2008. The PDP leader was also an accused in the case relating to 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts in which 58 people were killed. However, he was acquitted by the trial court. PTI