Mumbai: The state anti-terrorism squad took the custody of Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal on Wednesday for his alleged role in the triple blasts that rocked the city on July 13, 2011, claiming the lives of 27 and injuring scores of others. A special MCOCA court remanded him in police custody till February 18.
Bhatkal’s aide, Asadullah Akhtar alias Shakir alias Daniel alias Haddi alias Tabrez, who has also been booked in the same case, was also taken into ATS custody. While seeking their custody, the police focused on two points in court: they intend to find out the source of hawala money sent for the blasts and to establish that Bhatkal (30) was a key IM man whose custodial interrogation was required.
On July 13, 2011, three bombs exploded at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and a bus stop in Dadar, killing 27 people and injuring 126. “Though Yasin is wanted in cases dating back to 2008, we first want to question him in the more recent 13/7 blasts as Tabrez is a co-accused. Had we sought Bhatkal’s custody in the 2010 Pune’s German Bakery blast, we would not have got Tabrez’s custody. So we decided to question them where they have common role,” said an ATS officer.
While Bhatkal, with the help of his wanted accomplice Tahseen Shaikh allegedly planted a bomb at the Dadar bus stop, Tabrez left an explosive at Opera House. “On Bhatkal’s instructions, Tabrez and his accomplice Waqqas rented a room in Byculla where they made the bombs and ferried them to the sites on July 13, 2011,” the officer said. The accused had also procured SIM cards using forged documents. “We got the first clue into the blasts case while probing the SIM card fraud,” the officer said.
On Wednesday, defence lawyers argued that since the ATS was conducting a supplementary
investigation, the accused should be remanded in judicial custody, adding Bhatkal and Tabrez didn’t want to make any confessions to the ATS. But special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told judge Y D Shinde Bhatkal was indeed the key conspirator of the triple blasts and played an important role in procuring explosives and making improvised explosive device (IED). “The court allowed us to handcuff the accused while being transported,” Nikam added.
Suspected mastermind of the case Riyaz Bhatkal and his brother Iqbal are on the run.
The Times of India, February 7, 2014