Both accuse NIA of issuing death threats and extracting confessions from them

Alleged Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close aide Asadullah Akhtar, during a court hearing on Monday, accused the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of extracting confessions from them under the threat of killing them in a stage-managed encounter. The agency has refuted the charges.

The two accused have now been sent to 15 days custody of the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with a case registered in November 2011. The unit then had arrested 16 suspected Indian Mujahideen militants and also discovered an illegal arms-manufacturing factory located in the city outskirts.

Earlier in the day, the NIA produced the two accused before District Judge I.S. Mehta, requesting the court to send them to judicial custody. Informing the court of their grievances, defence counsel M.S. Khan submitted that both intended to retract their confessions made during investigations in Hyderabad.

Mr. Khan said the statement of accused persons recorded during the custody of the NIA Hyderabad was forcibly extracted from them under the threat of executing them in an encounter. He also apprised the court of the purported threat to eliminate the two inside jail.

“Therefore, the said confessions recorded during the investigation are not true, correct and voluntary,” he submitted before the court.

The Special Public Prosecutor opposed the contention of the defence counsel and submitted that the allegations were false, and the accused persons were properly represented through a counsel during the investigation in the NIA Special Court, Hyderabad.

The NIA had earlier obtained their custody in connection with the Dilsukhnagar blast case.

After hearing both sides, the court allowed the Special Cell to arrest Bhatkal and Akhtar. They were then produced before Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash who remanded them in police custody till November 12. Defence counsel M.S. Khan had opposed the police custody citing that the accused had already been investigated by the NIA, and the Special Cell had no locus standi to seek their fresh custody.

“I will file an application on Tuesday seeking retraction of confessions of both the accused to the NIA Hyderabad,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu.

In a related development, Mohammad Manjer Imam, an accused accomplice of Bhatkal, who was arrested by the NIA, was produced by the District Judge who extended his judicial custody till November 11.

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