Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close associate Asadullah Akhtar were on Friday remanded to 12-day police custody by a Delhi court after the National Investigation Agency said their custodial interrogation was required to unearth larger conspiracy of terror attacks.
Both the accused were produced in muffled faces before District Judge I S Mehta and NIA sought their 14-day custody for making recoveries related to the case and getting leads for arrest of other absconding co-accused.
Bhatkal, co-founder of the banned terror outfit, is wanted in around 40 terror cases and carries a reward of Rs.35 lakh. He was arrested from Indo-Nepal border on Wednesday night.
Yasin, 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.
During Friday’s proceedings held in-camera, advocate M S Khan, appearing for both the accused, argued that there was no material evidence against them. He also said that one of the accused persons was Mohd Ahmed and not Yasin.
The court, however, allowed NIA's plea saying, "In these circumstances and looking into contents of the application, I grant police custody to the NIA for 12 days for further investigation."
NIA, in its remand plea said Mohd Ahmed Siddibappa and Yasin Bhatkal are one and same against whom non-bailable warrant was issued by the court.
Bhatkal and Asadullah have been arrested by NIA for conspiring to carry out terror attacks across the country.
"These accused persons are required for custodial interrogation in the case to unearth the larger conspiracy to effect the recoveries and getting leads for arrest of other absconding co-accused persons.
"Both the accused persons are also required to be taken to various places in and outside Delhi for recovery of material evidence," the NIA said in its remand application.
The court had earlier issued NBWs against Bhatkal, Akhtar and ten other alleged top IM operatives on July 18 in a case in which five alleged IM operatives were chargesheeted on July 17.
Opposing NIA's plea saying 14-day remand, Khan argued that different state agencies are investigating the cases in their own way and NIA is one of them and a newly investigating agency. He also told the court that there is no material against both the accused persons.
The NIA also moved a separate application seeking permission to handcuff both Bhatkal and Akhtar while taking them to different states for further investigation. The plea was allowed by the court.
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 last month.
30-year-old Bhatkal, who was earlier associated with banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India, is suspected to have entered into a conspiracy with others to wage war against India.
Bhatkal and Asadullah were among the 12 top IM members listed as absconders in the 42-page charge sheet against arrested accused Mohammad Danish Ansari, Mohammad Aftab Alam, Imran Khan, Syed Maqbool and Obaid-Ur-Rehman under various penal provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the IPC for conspiracy to commit offences against the state.
Regarding Bhatkal's role, the NIA said that he, along with other conspirators, developed different modules and sleeper cells in Delhi, Darbhanga in Bihar, Nanded, Mumbai, Pune, Bhatkal in Karnataka and Hyderabad.
It also said that Bhatkal had contacted several students of Anjuman Engineering College in Bhatkal to motivate them in the name of 'jihad'.
The NIA also said in the charge sheet that IM was formed in the aftermath of "communal mobilisation caused due to factors like the Babri Masjid demolition incident (1992) and the riots in Gujarat after the Godhra incident (2002)."
It said Bhatkal, along with Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, decided to "form a new organisation called the IM to carry out terrorist attacks in different parts of India with a view to terrorise the Indian citizens, especially the majority community..."
The NIA said IM, which was banned by the Centre on June 22, 2009, was involved in November 23, 2007 blasts in courts of Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi blast of July 11, 2006, Mumbai serial blasts of July 11, 2006 and Hyderabad twin blasts of August 25, 2007.
Besides this, Jaipur blast of May 13, 2008, Ahmedabad serial blasts of July 26, 2008, September 13, 2008 serial blasts in Delhi, Pune's German Bakery blast in February 2010, Chinnaswami stadium blast in Bangalore on April 17, 2010 and Mumbai serial blasts of July 13, 2011 was carried out by IM, the NIA said.
Image: A file photo of Yasin Bhatkal