Kerala leaders, crowds greet Abdul Nasser Madani



Kollam (Kerala): Traffic stopped, crowds went delirious and Kerala politicians shook hands with Abdul Nasser Madani as the jailed Muslim leader came here to attend his daughter's wedding on Sunday.

The People's Democratic Party leader, under custody in Karnataka for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Bangalore bomb blasts, was given parole to attend the "nikah".

Traffic on the main road outside a hall where the event took place was blocked for an hour. It took 15 minutes for Madani to alight from the van and reach the podium at the venue.

Kerala's top politicians exchanged pleseantaries with him.

Leading from the front was CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who sat to Madani’s right side. On his left was Indian Union Muslim League's Lok Sabha member ET Mohammed Basheer.

Among the others who sat with him were Congress MPs MI Shahnawaz and Peethamabara Kurup, Kerala legislators C Divakaran, Thomas Issac, Varkala Kahar, and Left Democratic Front convenor Vaikom Viswan.

When the groom, dressed in a black suit, came up to the dais, there was a huge cheer as he paid his respect to Madani.

Karnataka police officials accompanying Madani were seen speaking to him when he took the mike to address the gathering.

Dressed in his customary black cap and sun glasses with his thick salt and pepper beard intact, Madani began the religious function with a small prayer.

"All of you know that I am unable to deliver a speech," he said.

"When I sit in the darkness of the jail, the one thing that keeps me going is the love and affection I get from Kerala cutting across religions.’

"I know that when I suffer, I am aware that there are so many others who suffer more than me."

He added: "I take this opportunity to thank Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and opposition leader VS Achuthanandan for their efforts to see that I get permission to attend my daughter's 'nikah'."

Madani was given parole till March 13 by a court in Bangalore to attend the wedding. He was told not to speak to the media or his supporters.

He arrived here on Saturday night from Thiruvananthapuram after his departure from Bangalore was delayed by more than 10 hours.

Conspicuous by their absence were ministers in the Chandy Cabinet.

Madani, also a religious leader here, has been in police custody in Karnataka since August 2010.

IANS