The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has taken custody of Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui from the Delhi police for suspected involvement in a foiled bid to trigger an improvised explosive device (IED) at the city’s Dagadusheth Halwai temple on February 13, 2010. The ATS produced Qateel before a court yesterday and sought custody for 14 days, but was allowed to keep the suspect for only eight days.
The bid on the temple was made on the same day as the powerful blast at the German Bakery in Koregaon Park which killed 17 people and injured over 60.
Qateel, who is a resident of Darbhanga in Bihar, was first arrested by the Delhi police in connection with terror strikes at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Jama Masjid in Delhi and the German Bakery blast.
During the investigation conducted by the Delhi police, the suspect confessed to attempting to plant a bomb in Dagadusheth Halwai temple on the evening on February 13, 2010. His attempt failed, as a flower vendor outside the temple did not allow him to keep the bag of explosives near his stall.
The ATS later filed a case against him for allegedly trying to plant an IED near the temple. ACP with the ATS, Samad Shaikh, who is the investigation officer in the case, produced Qateel in the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) S S Bose and sought custody for 14 days.
Assistant public prosecutor, A V Ausekar, argued in court while seeking custody on the grounds that the ATS needed to interrogate Siddiqui in order to nab his accomplices.
“It is difficult to believe that the suspect acted alone. There must be other people involved to bring the explosive material, made the bomb and provide financial assistance during the operation,” Ausekar said.
He added that the ATS would have to investigate where Qateel and his accomplice were staying before February 13.
He further said that the terror operation was to create a rift between the various communities in society.
Defence lawyers A Rehman and Kaynat Ali Shaikh, who are representing German Bakery Blast suspect Himayat Mirza Baig, are also representing Qateel.
Rehman said, while arguing against the custody plea by the prosecution, that the ATS produced evidence indicating that Qateel is associated with IM, which has been banned in India for several years now.
“The suspect was in custody of the Delhi police and at that time Maharashtra ATS had also interrogated him. There is no need for further police custody and therefore, he should be sent to judicial custody,” Rehman said.
Qateel has been arrested by the ATS for offences under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153 A (promoting enmity between two groups) of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Pune ATS, which is investigating the German Bakery case, had filed a 2,500-page charge sheet against seven suspects, including Himayat Inayat Mirza Baig of Beed, who was arrested in September 2010.
Qateel’s name however, was not mentioned in the charge sheet, and till date there is no progress in arresting others who had allegedly played a key role in executing the German Bakery blast.
The charge sheet stated that Yasin Bhatkal assembled the bomb in Udgir and Baig had accompanied him to the bakery to plant it. However, Qateel has told the Delhi police that Bhatkal was with him on the day of blast.
The ATS has mentioned in its remand report that Bhatkal is the absconding suspect in the Dagadusheth Temple case.