The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today argued in a court here that Delhi Police was trying to "frustrate" their ongoing probe against Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives by seeking further custody of top IM men Tehsin Akhtar and Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas.
The tug of war between the two probe agencies was seen in the court after the Special Cell of Delhi Police sought 25 days police custody of Tehsin and Waqas in connection with a case regarding the conspiracy of IM and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to carry out terror strikes in the national capital.
The NIA told the court that the Special Cell was again seeking remand of these two accused to "frustrate the investigation so far done by the NIA with respect to accused in different FIRs."
The NIA also said their probe into these cases were "held up" due to want of interrogation of these accused.
The Special Cell, however, countered the NIA's submissions saying their probe into the case regarding the conspiracy of IM and LeT to carry out terror strikes in Delhi was going on.
It also argued the interrogation of these two accused was necessary to "verify the nexus between LeT and IM".
The court, after hearing the arguments, remanded both the accused to custody of the Special Cell for 20 days while brushing aside the contentions of the NIA seeking its permission to formally arrest and interrogate these two accused in connection with the February last year Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad.
"It was the Special Cell Delhi Police who arrested the accused first and they have completed the investigation with respect to case FIR no 54/11 (regarding illegal arms factory here). However, they are yet to complete investigation in respect of case FIR no 16/12 (the present case) dated July 7, 2012.....," Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash said.
"If at this stage, accused (Tehsin and Waqas) are handed over to the NIA, the whole investigation so far conducted by the Special Cell in FIR no. 16/12 will be frustrated," the judge said and noted that permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs to conduct the probe into the case was also placed on record before it.
On April 2, the court had brushed aside the claims of the NIA to quiz these two accused first and had granted custody of Tehsin and Waqas to Special Cell for 13 days.
Tehsin and Waqas, along with other alleged IM operatives, Mohd Maroof, Wakar Azhar and Mohd Saqib Ansari, all of whom were arrested by the Special Cell last month, were produced before the court after expiry of police custody.
During the hearing today, the court allowed the plea of the Special Cell seeking four days custody of Maroof, Azhar and Ansari in connection with an illegal arms factory case here in which a supplementary charge sheet was recently filed against arrested IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar.
Seeking four days custody of these three accused, the police said they were required to be taken to Agra and Jaipur for further investigation in the case.
The police also claimed that some explosive materials were recovered from the possession of these accused in Jaipur at the time of their arrest and they need to the interrogated at length to unearth the entire conspiracy.
During the hearing, advocate M S Khan, who appeared for the accused, opposed the plea of the Special Cell saying these accused have been in their custody for over 20 days and there was no need to give further police custody.
The proceedings witnessed heated arguments between the NIA and the Special Cell with both the agencies trying to take custody of both the top IM operatives.
The NIA told the court that as per the NIA Act, the
probe agency has been "given precedence for custody remand as well as for trial" and it should be allowed to formally arrest these accused.
The Special Cell, however, said that during the probe, Waqas has disclosed that after carrying out the serial blasts in Pune on August 1, 2012, top IM operative Riyaz Bhatkal, who is now based in Pakistan, had instructed them to carry out blasts in Delhi.
"For this purpose, the Pune module (of IM) had reached Delhi as advance team and Tehsin had separately reached Delhi ...," the police said.
It also said Tehsin had told the investigators that in August 2012, Riyaz had communicated to him that the impact of the Pune serial blasts was not big so they have to carry out blasts in the national capital.
The Special Cell told the court that as per the instructions of Riyaz Bhatkal, the IM operatives had reached Delhi to carry out terror strikes but "before they could execute their plans, some of their members were arrested so they had to abort the plan."
The police also informed the court that they do not need further custodial interrogation of Tehsin and Waqas in the illegal arms factory case but the two were required to be quizzed in connection with a case regarding the conspiracy of IM and LeT to carry out terror strikes here.
Tehsin was arrested on March 25 near Indo-Nepal border in Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
Pakistan national Waqas was arrested outside Ajmer Railway Station on March 22 and his three associates -- Mahruf, Azhar, both residents of Jaipur, and Ansari, a resident of Jodhpur, were arrested on March 23 and thereafter brought to Delhi.