ATS cites security reasons to seek transfer of the German Bakery blast accused to Thane jail; wants identity of witnesses to be kept under wraps during ID parade
German Bakery blast accused and co-founder of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM), Yasin Bhatkal, will be shifted to the Thane Central Jail.
Heavily guarded: Yasin Bhatkal being produced in the Shivajinagar district and sessions court in Pune. Pic/ Mohan Patil
Until now, he was in the custody of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). Bhatkal was produced in the Shivajinagar district and sessions court in Pune yesterday, after his first police custody of 14 days ended.
Cops guarding hearing
Heavy police presence was seen on the court premises. In the courtroom, more than five policemen were guarding Bhatkal. He was kept in the toilet block to avoid the rush before and after the hearing.
ATS officials requested Special Judge S D Darne to issue directives to the authorities conducting Bhatkal’s identification parade to keep the names and addresses of witnesses confidential, as any kind revelation of their personal information might put their lives in danger.
Public prosecutor Vikas Shah said, “We have to conduct Bhatkal’s identification parade. Several witnesses will be called during this process. Bhatkal can’t be kept in Yerawada jail, and should be shifted to Thane jail.”
When the court asked Bhatkal if he suffered any ill-treatment at the hands of the police, he replied in the negative.
ATS officials, instead of asking for the remaining 16 days of police custody, requested the court to remand Bhatkal in judicial custody for a fortnight, to which the court agreed. Bhatkal’s counsel, Zaheerkhan Pathan, requested the court to issue directives to the Thane jailor to allow him to be present during the identification parade.
“This is a sensitive matter. There is a possibility of manipulation, and the suspect’s lawyer should be allowed to be present there,” Pathan said.
The court, however, told Pathan that he could directly approach the Thane jail authorities and seek their permission about his presence during the parade. “If the jail authorities do not allow you, then you can approach this court again,” Darne told Pathan, before remanding Bhatkal in judicial custody.