A special MCOCA court today remanded Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar in ATS custody till February 18 in connection with the 2011 Mumbai terror attack case.
The duo was arrested on Wednesday by the Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) after a Delhi court allowed its plea seeking their custody, saying their custodial interrogation was required to complete the probe.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told judge Y D Shinde that Bhatkal was the key conspirator of the three powerful blasts which ripped through crowded areas in Mumbai on July 13, 2011, killing at least 21 people and injuring 141.
Bhatkal played a very important role in procuring explosives and making Improvised Explosive Device (IED), he said. Nikam also told the court that they want to find out how the money was routed through hawala to execute the blasts.
“The court has allowed us to hand cuff the accused while being transported,” he said. However, defence lawyers told the court that since the ATS was conducting supplementary investigation, the accused should be remanded in judicial custody.
They also told the court that Bhatkal and Akhtar don’t want to make any confessions to ATS about the crime. Meanwhile, before the hearing, the court appointed lawyer V D More from legal aid panel to represent Bhatkal, who wore a smile on his face during the court proceedings while Akhtar had a grim look.
Akhtar’s lawyer Sherif Sheikh and More also moved an application in the court that the accused were detained illegally for a day. Earlier, five accused – Naquee Ahmed, Nadeem Shaikh, Kanwar Pathrija, Haroon Naik and Mohammed Qafeel Ansari were held in the case and are facing trial under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), Indian Penal Code and other laws.
Those wanted in the case are Riyaz Bhatkal, who is also a top operative of the alleged home grown terror outfit, Waqas Ibrahim Sad, Dubai-based Muzaffar Kolah and Tehseen Akhtar Shaikh, the police said. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested Yasin Bhatkal (30), who is wanted in over 40 terror cases and carries a reward of Rs. 35 lakh, as well as Akhtar, from the Indo-Nepal border on the night of August 28 last year.
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. Bhatkal, who was earlier associated with banned outfit SIMI, is suspected to have allegedly conspired along with others to “wage war against India.”