After a tug of war, Delhi Police on Wednesday had its way when a special court granted it 13-day custody of Indian Mujahideen operatives Tehseen Akhtar, Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas and three others, brushing aside claims of NIA to quiz them first.
Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash passed the order after Special Cell of Delhi Police and National Investigation Agency exchanged heated arguments to take the custody of Tehseen and Waqas, who were wanted for their alleged roles in the February 2013 Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad.
Tehseen and Waqas, along with other alleged IM operatives, Mohd. Maroof, Wakar Azhar and Mohd. Saqib Ansari, who were arrested by the special cell in March 2014 were produced before the court in muffled faces after expiry of police custody.
The special cell sought extension of their custody for 15 days on the ground that they have to be interrogated to know about the whereabouts of others members of the terror outfit.
However, the NIA opposed the police plea saying that being a federal investigating agency they should be permitted to formally arrest Tehseen and Waqas, a Pakistani national, in Dilsukhnagar blasts case.
The Special Cell’s prosecutor Rajiv Mohan countered the claims of NIA saying they have arrested these accused first and they need to interrogate them to unearth the conspiracy.
“You cannot curtail the rights of local police in the name of NIA Act… They (NIA) have not arrested the accused. We (special cell) had not stopped them (NIA) from arresting these accused,” Mr. Mohan argued.
He said that some more wanted IM operatives, including its co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal was to be arrested on the basis of the interrogation of these accused persons.
NIA prosecutor Ahmed Khan, however, submitted that the NIA Act has overriding effect and being a central agency, they have the right to interrogate these two accused.
“What have you (police) done in last 10 days,” he asked the special cell and argued in the court that police was duty bound to inform them after arresting these accused
Advocate M.S. Khan, appearing for Tehseen and Waqas, argued in the court that his clients were in custody of special cell for the last 10 days but the police was not saying what they have done during this period.
“What they (police) have done in last 10 days they are not saying. Why do they need further custody of the accused,” he asked.
The special cell told the court that they were questioning accused in connection with an illegal arms factory case in which a supplementary charge sheet was recently filed against IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar.
The police also countered submissions of NIA which said that offence committed in February 21, 2013 Dilsukhnagar twin blasts, that had claimed 16 lives, was grave.
“NIA is only seeing the gravity of their case but they are not seeing the gravity of our case,” the police said, adding that they have to tighten the “loose ends” in their ongoing probe by interrogating these accused.
They also said these accused would give vital information about the September 2010 Jama Masjid terror attack case.
According to sources, a team of Maharashtra ATS was also present in the court room during the day’s proceedings.