Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi alias Tarbez, one of the aides of the Indian Mujahideen co-founder Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal and accused in the Dilsukhnagar blasts was given into the National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody for 15 days by the first additional metropolitian session judge of the Nampally court. Akhtar, who was arrested a few days ago, will be in the NIA’s custody from September 20 to October 4 and will be produced before the court on October 5.
Asadullah Akhtar has been named as accused no 2 in the Dilsuknagar bomb blast, whereas Yasin Bhatkal has been named as accused no 5. Bhatkal and Akhtar, allegedly involved in several bomb blasts in different parts of the country, were arrested by Bihar police on the India-Nepal border on August 28. The NIA later brought them to Delhi and interrogated them.
The terror suspects reportedly confessed to their role in Dilsukhnagar blasts. They allegedly planted explosives on two bicycles.
According to Hyderabad police, the profiles of the two suspects seen in the CCTV footage before the blasts match with Bhatkal and Akhtar. The twin blasts had claimed 16 lives and were triggered by IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres in Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad on February 21.
Earlier, Asadullah Akhtar was produced before the first addition metropolitian sessions judge by the NIA in the afternoon amid tight security and was sent to judicial remand till October 17. He was shifted to Cherlapally jail. After producing Akhtar in the court, the NIA moved a petition, seeking 15-day custody of the accused for questioning in connection with the Dilsukhnagar blasts.
Allowing the NIA to take Asadullah Akhtar into its custody, the judge said the investigating agency will allow the counsel of the accused and one family member to visit him once in a day. The accused will be medically examined every 48 hours and will be provided proper food during his stay. The judge asked the agency to medically examine the accused before taking him into custody from jail authorities.
Earlier, opposing the NIA request to take Asadullah Akhtar into its custody, the counsel of the accused said handing over his client to the NIA is not advisable as the agency may torture him to get information. Already, the NIA has been interrogating his client continuously since his arrest and had gathered a lot of information from him and hence again giving his client into its custody will be of no use.
“Why should the NIA want to take Asadullah Akhtar into its custody. It can interrogate him for some time on a daily basis and send him back to jail as is being done by the CBI. And if at all the NIA needs his client’s custody, it should be given for at the most eight to 10 days and his counsel should be allowed to stay with him during the interrogation,” he said.
The NIA counsel said the investigating agency has to collect material evidence and it can be done only when it take the accused into its custody. The apprehensions of the defence counsel that the accused would be tortured during interrogation is wrong as the NIA does not has such practices, he asserted.
After hearing both sides, the judge granted 15-day custody of Asadullah Akhtar to NIA.
Indian Mujahideen (IM) has carried out several attacks against civilians in India. The organisation is a front for Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Bhatkal co-founded IM in 2008, along with his brother Riyaz Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi.
IM is responsible for major strikes like the Pune’s German Bakery blast, where CCTV footage also captured him planting the bomb. He was also reportedly seen at the scene of Hyderabad blasts in Feb this year. He had executed attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad too killing over 50 people.