The hearing on an application filed by the Delhi Police regarding production of alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) terror operative Yasin Bhatkal for trial into the German Bakery blast case via video-conferencing was on Saturday postponed to July 19 due to the absence of prosecution lawyer. As many as 17 people were killed and 56 were injured in a bomb blast at the German Bakery in Koregaon Park area of Pune on February 13, 2010. Yasin Bhatkal alias Mohammed Ahmad Mohammed Jarar Siddibappa alias Shivananad is a prime accused in the terror case.
The Indian Express explains the case as it stands today.
First arrest, chargesheet and suspicions around it
The first arrest in the German Bakery bomb blast case was that of Mirza Himayat Baig of Beed district. He was arrested by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Pune on September 7, 2010. The ATS claimed to have recovered about 1.2 kilograms of RDX from Baig’s residence in Udgir.
In December 2010, the ATS filed a chargesheet against Baig. The ATS had named six others, including IM commanders Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhari, LeT commanders Fayyaz Kagzi and Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, as accused in the case. Also, during the probe, police had recovered a Voter ID card with Baig’s photograph, but had the name of an Udgir resident Shaikh Khayyum Ayub on it.
The ATS chargesheet stated that Baig went to Colombo, where LeT operatives — Fayyaz Kagzi and Zabiuddin Ansari — gave him training. Baig’s passport details showed that he had visited Colombo. But Baig told the court that he went to Colombo for selling Indian ready-made garments and perfume, which he purchased from Kharghar in Mumbai. Defence lawyer had claimed there was no evidence of Baig’s alleged terror training in Colombo.
On April 18, 2013, the sessions court in Pune awarded death sentence to Baig in the case. Meanwhile, a chargesheet submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before a Delhi court in July 2013, about the IM’s overall activities in the country, mentioned about Yasin Bhatkal’s alleged involvement in the blast case, but it did not name Himayat Baig. On March 17, 2016, the Bombay High Court, while setting aside death sentence for Baig, granted him life term, holding him guilty under Section 5 (b) of the Explosive Substances Act.
Further probe: Arrest of Yasin Bhatkal
In June 2012, accused Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal was deported from Saudi Arabia to India. Also alleged to be involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case, Jundal so far has not been arrested in the German Bakery blast case.
Meanwhile, in August 2013, accused Yasin Bhatkal was arrested from India-Nepal border. In March 2014, the ATS formally arrested Bhatkal in the German Bakery blast case and filed a supplementary chargesheet against him in August. According to the ATS, Bhatkal was seen in the CCTV footage obtained from the blast site.
Bhatkal’s lawyer brought it to the notice of the court that the hearing in the blast case was stalled and postponed on several occasions as he was not produced in the court since August 2014. Then, as per the directions of the court, the ATS produced Bhatkal before a court on April 29 this year for framing of charges. A team of the Delhi Police had brought him to Pune from Tihar jail.
The court read out the charges framed against Bhatkal under sections 302, 307, 326, 325, 324, 427, 120 (b), 467, 468, 474, 153 (a), 109 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, sections of the Indian Explosives Substances Act and sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Bhatkal, however, rejected the charges against him and pleaded not guilty.
The Delhi Police on April 29 submitted an application before the special court in Pune that Bhatkal was an accused in various blasts across the country and for security reasons, the court should allow his trial in the German Bakery blast case via video-conferencing.
“Considering his antecedents, it is of paramount risk to take him all the way from Delhi to Pune for producing before the honourable court. There is every apprehension of his own terrorist group or his anti-group or any other fundamentalist attacking him,” stated the application filed by ACP Vireshwar Malik of the Delhi Police.
Hearing on the application was expected on Saturday. “No hearing took place today (Saturday) because special public prosecutor Raja Thakre could not come to the court. So the court has given July 19 as next date for hearing. Meanwhile, I have filed my say before the court regarding the application filed by the Delhi Police,” said advocate Zaheerkhan Pathan, who represents Yasin Bhatkal.