In what could cause a major embarrassment to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, it has now emerged that Abdul Sammad Bhatkal, a suspect in the Pune German Bakery blast, was never a 'wanted' in the illegal arms seizure case in which he has been arrested.
The ATS had arrested Sammad on May 25 from Mangalore airport on arrival from Dubai for allegedly supplying arms to three persons arrested from south Mumbai in August last year.
"While ATS has been claiming that Sammad has been named as a wanted accused in the 2009 arms seizure case, the agency's remand pleas filed last year never included Sammad's name," his lawyer Mubin Solkar said.
According to the ATS, Sammad, a close aide of gangster Chhota Shakeel, had supplied arms to arrested accused Haji Imran, Afzal Shaikh and Suleiman Patel arrested on August 5, 2009 from a Mazgaon hotel.
However, the FIR registered on the day of the trio's arrest and their remand application submitted before the Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate in August last year specifically mentions that these three accused received the arms from one Arif Mirza Baig, through Chhota Shakeel.
The trio was sent to police custody on three occasions and was subsequently remanded in judicial custody. "Not once did ATS name Samad as the second wanted accused in the case. Now almost a year later, they (ATS) pick him up and arrest him in the case," Solkar said.
Baig was shown as the only wanted accused in the case and Imran, Shaikh and Patel were released on bail after which there has been no progress in the case, Solkar said.
In the first remand application filed on May 25 to seek Sammad's custody, the ATS had claimed that Imran and Patel had revealed during interrogation that the weapons were provided to them by Sammad at Baig's instance.
"Sammad has been falsely implicated in this case. I would bring up this point while arguing on his bail plea on Wednesday," Solkar said.
Soon after Sammad's arrest, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had named him as one of the prime suspects in the February 13 Pune German Bakery blast, which left 17 persons dead and several others injured.
However, ATS has not yet named Sammad, brother of Ahmed Mohammed Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal, the fugitive Indian Mujahideen leader, in the blast case.