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PFI raids: Court extends ATS custody of five accused till Oct 8

The probe agency had sought further custody of the accused on the ground that it wanted to examine their social media accounts
Last Updated : 03 October 2022, 16:25 IST

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A court here on Monday extended till October 8 the ATS custody of five alleged members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) who were arrested during multi-agency raids conducted in Maharashtra.

The probe agency had sought further custody of the accused on the ground that it wanted to examine their social media accounts and confront them with other electronic evidence as part of the investigation. The five accused were among 20 people apprehended in the state by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in multi-agency raids across the country spearheaded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 22.

The ATS produced the accused before the court of additional sessions judge A M Patil on Monday on the expiry of their previous remand, and sought their custody for eight more days. The judge, however, said upon perusal of the case diary, it seems that the investigating officer has to extract all the information from mobile phones seized from the accused. The investigating officer has technical experts in his team and with their help, he can extract all the incriminating material and confront the accused. This work may be completed in four to five days and eight days are not required for it, he said. According to lawyer Mohammad Ibrahim, appearing for accused Sadiq Qureshi Shaikh, who is also an advocate, the ATS has claimed that his client was providing legal awareness all over the country and the probe agency needed to interrogate him further.

The advocate argued that conducting a legal workshop was not a crime and despite that, the prosecution was projecting the said work as illegal. Also, the accused had a right to travel all over the country. On the ATS claim that Mazhar Khan, another accused in the case, had transferred money to Shaikh's account, his lawyer said he had given a personal loan to Khan, which the latter had repaid. Lawyers of the other accused submitted that the grounds mentioned in the fresh remand were only a repetition of the earlier ground. Lawyer Imran Shaikh, appearing for Khan and Mohammed Iqbal, also said that extension of custody was “bad in law”, as there is no “genuine reason” in the entire remand application. He prayed that the accused be sent to judicial custody.

The judge after hearing the arguments of both sides extended their remand by five days. The accused have been booked on the charges of engaging in unlawful activities, promoting enmity among communities and waging a war against the country. In a massive crackdown on the PFI, multi-agency teams had arrested 106 leaders and activists of the radical Islamic outfit in near-simultaneous raids in 15 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. Maharashtra and Karnataka accounted for 20 arrests each, followed by Tamil Nadu with 10, Assam 9, Uttar Pradesh 8, Andhra Pradesh 5, Madhya Pradesh 4, three each in Puducherry and Delhi and two in Rajasthan.

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Published 03 October 2022, 16:25 IST

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