New Delhi, Sept 10: A Delhi court on Tuesday extended till September 17 the NIA custody of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close associate Asadullah Akhtar after the agency claimed they were involved in a deep rooted conspiracy and had executed various blasts in India.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were produced before District Judge I S Mehta amid tight security after expiry of their 12 days of custodial interrogation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The court extended their NIA custody till September 17 after hearing arguments from both the sides. The court, meanwhile, allowed NIA's separate plea for taking Bhatkal and Akhtar's DNA samples and specimen handwritings for further probe, preservation and comparison with various seized articles.
During arguments, NIA sought extension of police custody of both accused by 15 days, saying that during their custodial interrogation, Bhatkal and Akhtar disclosed they were using several e-mail and chat identities through which they were in touch with their associates and handlers, operating from Pakistan.
Opposing NIA's plea, advocates M S Khan and S Qamar, who appeared for Bhatkal and Akhtar, argued that the alleged disclosures of the accused during NIA's interrogation were "self created" by the probe agency. The defence lawyers also claimed that NIA was "intending to implicate the accused persons falsely in different cases."
Seeking extension of their custody, NIA said the accused used to communicate in "coded language and signals" and their e-mails and chat details contained intricate details of deep rooted conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India and also plans of further terror strikes in the country.
"The said details are in coded language and voluminous, running into about 3000 pages of data, and require further analysis. Further examination of accused persons are required to understand contents emerging from such data which is often found in coded language," the NIA said.
According to the NIA, Bhatkal, wanted in around 40 terror cases and carrying a reward of Rs 35 lakh, and Akhtar were arrested from the Indo-Nepal border on the night of August 28. During the hearing, NIA submitted that Bhatkal and Akhtar used to get access to the Internet "either from their laptop or from public kiosks etc. by means of coded language or signals etc".
It said the accused were found involved in large and deep rooted conspiracy and had "executed bomb blasts in various parts of the country for over a period of six to eight years and more custodial examinations of accused persons are required to extract additional information from them." Advocate Khan opposed the NIA's arguments, saying it had not disclosed about the recovery of items and e-mail identities on which it was relying.
He also argued that different state agencies were probing the various other bomb blasts cases and the NIA was not "alone" in probing all these cases and there was no material evidence on the point of conspiracy against these accused. 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.
Bhatkal was among the "executors" of various terror attacks in India.
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, the agency has said. 30-year-old Bhatkal, who was earlier associated with banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), is suspected to have entered into 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 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.