AHMEDABAD: A special court today remanded four persons, accused of murdering two BJP leaders in Bharuch, in the custody of National Investigation Agency until December 29.
NIA had sought ten-day remand of the accused but Principal Judge P B Desai of the NIA court remanded them in the agency's custody until next Tuesday after hearing arguments submitted by the prosecution and defence. Police arrested Inayat Haji Patel, Mohammad Yunus Shaikh, Abdul Samad and Abid Patel in connection with the double murder in November.
Seeking the ten-day remand, NIA contended that it needed to find out more about Abid's links on the basis of his call data records. NIA argued that remand was needed to investigate the role played by other accused, including Samad who allegedly provided a firearm for the murders.
Abid is the brother of the prime accused in the case Javed Chikna, also an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, and believed to have fled from the country many years back. Abid, a British citizen, was arrested in a joint operation by the state Anti Terrorist Squad and various central agencies early this month from Indo-Nepal border.
NIA said two SIM cards were found from Abid and it was necessary to extract details about his contacts. However, lawyers appearing for the accused opposed the remand application claiming that the presence of the accused is not needed for acquiring call detail records.
They argued that Bharuch police had investigated this angle in the past as all the four accused were in their custody then. The BJP leaders, identified as Shirish Bangali, ex-party president of Bharuch district and senior RSS member, and Pragnesh Mistry, general secretary of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha of the district, were shot dead in Bharuch on November 2.
The initial investigation was conducted by Bharuch police and state ATS. The state police had termed the double murders an 'act of terror'. The probe had shown that the contract for killing the BJP leaders was allegedly given by Chikna, apparently to avenge riots in Mumbai during 1993 and in Gujarat during 2002.
Based on the state government's request, the Union Home Ministry had handed over the probe to NIA early this month. The agency filed an FIR with the NIA court here on December 5.