New Delhi: A special court here today sought a reply from NIA’s Hyderabad unit on separate pleas filed by anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Mumbai and Aurangabad seeking custody of Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal in connection with cases lodged against him there.

Bhatkal is now in Hyderabad after NIA’s state unit arrested him and his close aide Asadullah Akhtar in connection with the February 2013 Dilsukhnagar blast that claimed 16 lives. The blasts were triggered by IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres on February 21 this year.

According to court sources, ATS Mumbai and Aurangabad moved an application before District Judge I S Mehta saying they need the custody of Bhatkal as he was wanted in various cases in the state.

The court has sought responses till October 28 from NIA’s Hyderabad unit and prison authorities of Andhra Pradesh’s Cherlapally central jail, where Bhatkal is at present lodged, the sources said.

During the day, the court extended till October 28 the judicial custody of Bhatkal’s aide Mohd Manjer Imam who was arrested by NIA in connection with terror strikes across the country since 2003.

NIA claimed that during its probe, Imam’s complicity has surfaced and being an IM operative, he was involved in the conspiracy of carrying out terror acts in various places in India.

Seeking extension of judicial custody of Imam, NIA said its probe into the case was going on.

NIA had earlier referred to the chat communications between IM founders Yasin and Riyaz Bhatkal and had said that during the investigation, it has surfaced that Imam was working for the banned terror outfit under the instructions of Riyaz and others.

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