Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close aide were sent to custody of the Delhi police for 15 days after a court allowed the plea of the probe agency to arrest them in a case lodged in 2011 for allegedly setting up an illegal arms factory.
District Judge I S Mehta allowed the Delhi police special cell to arrest Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar after they were produced before it by the National Investigation Agency, Hyderabad which said the accused are not required for custodial interrogation.
The district judge asked special cell sleuths to produce Bhatkal and Akhtar before the designated court for trying the cases being probed by the special cell of the Delhi police for seeking their custody. The accused were then produced before Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash who remanded both the accused to police custody for 15 days till November 12.
Advocate M S Khan, appearing for the two, however, opposed the police custody plea, saying the accused have already been investigated by the NIA and the special cell has no locus standi to seek their fresh custody.
Bhatkal and Akhtar was earlier taken to Hyderabad after being arrested on September 21 and September 17 respectively by NIA's Hyderabad unit in connection with the Dilsukhnagar blast case that claimed 16 lives. The blasts were triggered by IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres on February 21 this year.
The court had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against Bhatkal and Akhtar in the illegal arms factory case, in which the special cell had already arrested 16 alleged IM men, as they were absconding since then. The special cell had in November 2011, busted an illegal arms factory located in Meer Vihar area of Nangloi in Outer Delhi and several alleged IM suspects were arrested.
An FIR was registered against Bhatkal in the case on November 22, 2011 and later a non-bailable warrant was also issued against him for setting up the factory. According to the Delhi police, the weapons manufacturing unit had elaborate equipment like moulding machine, cutting machine, assembly drilling machine and grinding machine besides explosives and rocket launchers.
During the proceedings before the district judge on Monday, Bhatkal and Akhtar informed the court that they were threatened by the NIA, Hyderabad and were forced to write their confessional statements.
Defence counsel Khan argued that the NIA, Hyderabad threatened to kill both the accused in an encounter if they refused to write their statements as desired by the agency.
The NIA, however, said the allegations are false and the accused were not tortured. The agency also said that they were properly represented by their counsel, so there was no point of torturing them.
Meanwhile, Mohd Manjer Imam, another aide of Bhatkal who was arrested by the NIA in connection with terror strikes across the country since 2003, was also produced before the district judge who extended his judicial custody till November 11.
Seeking extension of judicial custody of Imam, the NIA said its probe into the case was going on. Bhatkal was taken to Hyderabad after he was arrested on September 21 by NIA's Hyderabad unit in connection with the Dilsukhnagar blast case that claimed 16 lives. The blasts were triggered by IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres on February 21. Akhtar was arrested in connection with the blast case on September 17.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were earlier arrested by the NIA in connection with a case lodged for carrying out various terror strikes in the country.
The NIA had earlier taken Bhatkal's custody, saying he was involved in bomb blasts in different parts of India since 2003. It had also told the court that Bhatkal had associates in Pakistan, Nepal and the Middle East who were also involved in the terror strikes in the country.
According to the NIA, Bhatkal, wanted in around 40 terror cases and carrying a reward of Rs 35 lakh, and Akhtar were arrested from Indo-Nepal border on the night of August 28. Bhatkal was among the "principal conspirators" and "executors" of various terror attacks in India, the NIA has said in its charge sheet filed in a Delhi court in August.
Bhatkal, who hails from Bhatkal village of Udupi district in North Karnataka, is wanted in a string of terror attacks in Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad, the agency had said.
Thirty-year-old Bhatkal, who was earlier associated with banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India, is suspected to have hatched a conspiracy with others to wage war against India.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were among the 12 top IM members listed as absconders in the 42-page chargesheet filed against arrested accused Mohammad Danish Ansari, Mohammad Aftab Alam, Imran Khan, Syed Maqbool and Obaid-Ur-Rehman under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the IPC for conspiracy to commit offences against the state.