8:53 pm - Saturday November 7, 2015

Bhatkal didn’t use cellphone to call from jail

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Countering claims made by central intelligence agencies, Telangana prison officials on Saturday clafified that jailed Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal had called his wife using a mobile phone from Cherlapalli jail.

“The allegation that Yasin Bhatkal called his wife with a mobile phone from inside the Cherlapalli Prison is baseless, factless and there is no truth…it is a false allegation,” Telangana prisons DIG A Narasimha told reporters in Hyderabad.

The question of bringing in a cell-phone inside the prison does not arise as thorough checks are conducted before anyone enters the premises, Narasimha claimed.

Bhatkal, who is one of the accused in the February 2013 Dilsukhnagar twin blasts case that rocked the city, is lodged in the Cherlapalli Central Prison.

According to reports, Bhatkal called up his wife using a cell phone from inside the jail and told her that he would get out of the jail soon with help from “friends from Damascus”.

Following the court orders, Bhatkal was granted telephone facility from February this year, wherein prisoners are allowed to speak to their family members twice a week, the DIG Prisons said.

“Since Bhatkal availed the landline telephone facility, he spoke on two numbers to his mother and wife on 27 occasions. The phone facility is only for five minutes and it automatically gets disconnected after completion of the specified time,” Narasimha said.

The entire conversations have been recorded and the same have been handed over to the investigating and security agencies.

“The 27 conversations, which are in Urdu and Arabic have been handed over to investigating agencies,” he said, adding, however, Bhatkal may have spoken during transit (while attending Court proceedings in the case) and “that needs to be ascertained”.

Security around the Cherlapalli prison will be enhanced with deployment of additional forces, the DIG said adding they carried out surprise checks on the jail premises on Saturday, but no cell phone was found.

“In the last one month, Bhatkal spoke to his family members seven times through the authorised landline phone facility. He did not speak from cell phone from inside the jail…It is just not possible,” Telangana director general (Prisons) VK Singh told PTI.

“We deny any such conversation from mobile phone…If he really has such a plan, why would he share with his family members,” the DG (Prisons) said adding, “I don’t know…there may be such a plan and investigating agencies will look into that.”

Meanwhile, an intelligence officer said the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, is taking lot of precautions whenever Bhatkal and other accused are taken to court in connection with the case.

“He has a plan to escape from the jail and we are watching it. The trial in the case is going on and lot of precaution is being taken by the NIA whenever Bhatkal and others are produced before the court,” the officer said.

Eighteen people were killed and 131 injured in the deadly twin explosions that were triggered by powerful IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres in Dilsukhnagar, a crowded shopping area in the city on February 21, 2013.

The NIA had on March 14 last year filed its first charge sheet in the case against Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, who were arrested on the Indo-Nepal border in August 2013.

Bhatkal and Haddi were charged for murder and various other offences under the Indian Penal Code and Explosive Substances Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The second charge sheet was filed in September 2014 against absconding IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and two other IM operatives. The terror outfit IM had hatched a high-level conspiracy to wage a war against India and carried out the blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of the people and to further the outfit’s activities, NIA had then said.

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