8 days after court order, ATS yet to get custody of suspects

It has been eight days since a Delhi court gave its nod, but the Delhi Police is yet to hand over to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) the custody of five suspects held by its Special Cell in connection with the August 1 serial blasts on Pune's J M Road. Officers said one of the reasons for this delay was non-availability of an armed escort team to bring the suspects to Pune.

The suspects were arrested in October. On December 2, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria had said the legal formalities of transferring the accused were complete and they would get custody of the five suspects within the next three days.

Till Sunday, Maharashtra had not received the custody of the suspects, even as an ATS team has been camping in Delhi.

Amitesh Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (ATS), said: "We have not yet received the custody due to some technical reasons." In reply to a text message, Maria told The Indian Express on Sunday: "We are waiting for the Delhi armed police to provide the escort as per the Delhi court order."

The Delhi Police had initially arrested four men — Asad Khan (33) of Aurangabad, Imran Khan (32) of Nanded, Syed Feroz alias Hamza of Shukrawar Peth in Pune, Irfan Mustafa Landage (30) of Nagar — in connection with the low-intensity blasts in Pune. They had also recovered explosives from the four and had said the suspects were planning more attacks.

Interrogation of the four had led the Delhi Police to Syed Maqbool alias Zuber of Dharmabad in Nanded who was allegedly in close contact with the four and planning an attack on Buddhist shrines in Bodh Gaya "in retaliation to the incidences in Myanmar".

Before the Pune blasts, Maqbool, Irfan, Imran and Asad had discussed a plan to carry out an attack in Bodh Gaya but it was decided to strike at Pune first to avenge the murder of Qateel Siddiqui in Yerawada jail.

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