Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal today claimed before a special court that he was "severely tortured" in NIA custody and kept in "solitary confinement" in Tihar Jail without proper food and treatment though he was suffering from stomach ailment.
District Judge I S Mehta directed Tihar Jail authorities to file a report in this matter and provide all facilities to Bhatkal as per rules. In his application, Bhatkal alleged that he was being treated "worse than an animal" inside the Tihar Jail, where he is presently lodged in judicial custody, and was denied access to fresh air and sunlight. Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Bhatkal, told the court that his client was not provided proper food and treatment in the jail and was suffering from stomach ailments. "During the police custody remand of NIA, the applicant has been severely tortured with scientific technology and he has not yet overcome from the shock of torture...," the plea said.
It further said, "since the day of his (Bhatkal's) arrest i.e. for about eight months, the applicant has been kept in solitary confinement and has not seen sunlight except during his transportation for the purpose of investigation and production before the court." Khan told the judge that now Bhatkal feels dizzy when he is exposed to sunlight and he has not being provided any treatment for his stomach ailment in the jail despite telling the prison authorities about it. The court, after going through the application, directed the Tihar Jail authorities to file a report in this matter.
"The copy of the same (plea) be sent to Superintendent Central Jail, Tihar for necessary report and in the meanwhile, superintendent Tihar is directed to provide all the facilities to this accused as per rule available to the inmates," it said and fixed the matter for May 29. Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar, along with some other suspected IM members, were produced before the court in connection with a case of alleged conspiracy to carry out terror acts in India.
In his plea, Bhatkal alleged that he has been kept in "a room without toilet" and necessary directions should be issued to the superintendent of jail number three in Tihar on the issue. During the proceedings, the court also issued production warrants against co-accused Obaid-Ur-Rehman and Abu Faisal. According to sources, Obaid-Ur-Rehman is now lodged in a Bangalore jail while Faisal is in Bhopal in connection with the cases lodged against them there. The court also allowed the National Investigation Agency's plea seeking issuance of proclamation proceedings against 10 top suspected IM operatives who are still absconding.
The court had on February 24 taken cognisance of NIA's charge sheet in which Bhatkal, Akhtar, Manzer Imam and Ujjair Ahmed were named as accused for allegedly waging war against India, conspiring for terrorist acts, having membership of a terror organisation and radicalisation and recruitment of youths for IM. They have been chargesheeted under various sections of IPC, including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the country), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war) and under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were among the 12 top IM members listed as absconders in the 42-page charge sheet filed earlier against arrested accused Mohd Danish Ansari, Mohd Aftab Alam, Imran Khan, Syed Maqbool and Obaid-Ur-Rehman under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and IPC for alleged conspiracy to commit offences against India.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were arrested by NIA from Indo-Nepal border on the night of August 28, last year.