The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Delhi Police were involved in a war of words on Wednesday while seeking custody of two Indian Mujahideen operatives — Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu Chaudhary and Zia ur Rehman alias Waqas — in a special court.
While the NIA sought custody claiming they were a central agency and had the right to formally arrest the two men, wanted for the Dilsukhnagar blasts case in Hyderabad, the Delhi Police said they had arrested the accused first, and the NIA “could not curtail the rights of the local police in the name of the NIA Act”.
While the Delhi Police sought 15-day custody of the IM operatives in connection with an illegal arms factory case, the NIA told the court that the NIA Act had an overriding effect and, being a central agency, they have the right to interrogate the two men. The Delhi Police eventually had its way when the court granted it 13-day custody.
The NIA made its pitch as soon as the proceedings began before Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash. The Delhi Police, however, told the court that the accused would give vital information about the September 2010 Jama Masjid terror attack case, and that they were yet to arrest some more wanted persons, including IM co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal, for which they needed to conduct sustained custodial interrogation of the two accused.
NIA’s prosecutor Ahmed Khan highlighted the NIA Act and said that the Special Cell was duty bound to inform the agency after arresting the accused.
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However, Special Cell prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said, “You cannot curtail the rights of the local police in the name of the NIA Act… NIA is only seeing the gravity of their case but they are not seeing the gravity in our case.” He added that the police had to tie up “loose ends” in their ongoing probe by interrogating the accused.
The NIA also asked what investigation had been carried out by the Delhi Police in the past 10 days. Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Tehseen and Waqas, reiterated the contention. “What have the police done in the last 10 days? Why do they need further custody of the accused?” Khan asked.
The Special Cell told the court they were questioning the accused in connection with an illegal arms factory case in which a supplementary chargesheet was recently filed against IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi.
Besides Akhtar and Waqas, Mohammad Mahruf, Mohammad Waqar Azhar alias Haneef and Shaquib Ansari alias Khalid were also produced in court.