Investigations following the arrest of five members of a group called Base Movement in November 2016 has revealed that a leader of the group was involved in four blasts carried out in Madurai between 2011 and 2014. The five members were arrested by the NIA from Madurai in Tamil Nadu in connection with a series of bomb blasts at court premises in south India. One of the arrested men, N Abbas Ali — who is linked to former members of the proscribed Tamil Nadu terror outfit Al Ummah — has revealed that he planted four bombs in Madurai between 2011 and 2014.
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Ali is accused by the NIA of planning and executing blasts in the premises of courts in Chittoor, Kollam, Mysuru, Nellore and Mallapuram between April 7 and November 1, 2016.
Following are the accounts of the Madurai blasts provided by Ali to investigators, which are corroborated by news reports.
*The May 2011 blast occurred in a dustbin near the crowded Mattuthavani bus stand at 9.15 pm. Nobody was injured in the minor blast.
*On September 29, 2011, Ali planted a device in a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus to mark the anniversary of the 2002 killing of Al Ummah leader Imam Ali by police in Bengaluru. The IED, made with materials sourced from firecrackers, was found by employees of the transport corporation and defused.
*On September 29, 2012, Ali planted an IED outside a TASMAC wine shop in Theni to mark the death anniversary of Imam Ali. The device exploded but no casualties occurred.
*The fourth blast occurred on February 9, 2014, at the venue of an AIADMK meeting in Madurai. The bomb, placed below the stage, exploded when no one was around. The date was the anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case.
“Ali has claimed to have been involved in four blasts in the Madurai region. It seems that these cases are undetected or some others have already been arrested,’’ a source said.
The issue of the blasts in Madurai has been a source of controversy in Tamil Nadu, with the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations last year calling for a CBI investigation into as many as 17 blasts reported in and around Madurai between 2011 and 2016.
The investigations have revealed that Ali was trained and given directions to execute the blasts in Tamil Nadu between 2011 and 2014 by a local man called Abu Backar. Investigators believe that Abu Backar is the elusive former Al Ummah man Abu Backar Siddique, whose name has emerged in several terrorism investigations in south India.
In documents placed in a court in Bengaluru in 2013, the police had named Siddique as the central figure in the April 17, 2013, bombing of the BJP headquarters in the city after the arrest of three Al Ummah men accused of executing the bombing.
Siddique has been associated with the activities of Al Ummah since its formation in 1993 and is alleged to have trained in Afghanistan. Around 50 years old, he is also alleged to have played a role in a series of murders of right-wing Hindu leaders in Tamil Nadu between 2010 and 2013.
The investigations of the five court bombings by members of the Base Movement outfit —floated in 2015 allegedly by Ali — have revealed that the group carried out the blasts to mark the deaths of Muslims executed on charges of terrorism or killed in police encounters.