A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his close associate Asadullah Akhtar till September 17 after the agency claimed they were involved in a deep rooted conspiracy and had executed various blasts in India.

Bhatkal and Akhtar were produced before District Judge I.S. Mehta amid tight security after the expiry of their 12 days of custodial interrogation by the NIA. The court extended their custody till September 17 after hearing arguments from both sides.

The court, meanwhile, allowed the NIA’s separate plea for taking Bhatkal and Akhtar’s DNA samples and specimen handwritings for further probe, preservation and comparison with various seized articles.

The NIA sought the extension of police custody of both, saying that during their custodial interrogation, Bhatkal and Akhtar disclosed they were using several e-mail and chat identities through which they were in touch with their associates and handlers operating from Pakistan.

“The said details are in coded language and voluminous, running into about 3000 pages of data, and require further analysis. Further examination of accused persons are required to understand contents emerging from such data which is often found in coded language,” the NIA said.

Opposing the NIA’s plea, advocates M.S. Khan and S. Qamar, who appeared for Bhatkal and Akhtar, argued that the alleged disclosures of the accused during NIA’s interrogation were “self created” by the probe agency, claiming that NIA was “intending to implicate the accused persons falsely in different cases.”

Advocate Khan opposed the NIA’s arguments, saying it had not disclosed about the recovery of items and e-mail identities on which it was relying.

He also argued that different state agencies were probing the various other bomb blasts cases and the NIA was not “alone” in probing all these cases and there was no material evidence on the point of conspiracy against these accused.

According to the NIA, Bhatkal, wanted in around 40 terror cases and carrying a reward of Rs. 35 lakhs, and Akhtar were arrested from the Indo-Nepal border on the night of August 28. Bhatkal was among the “principal conspirators” and “executors” of various terror attacks in India, the NIA said in its charge sheet filed in a Delhi court last month.

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