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11/7 key accused produced in court

A Mumbai court sends Akmal Hashmi to police custody till September 13.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2006 17:12 IST

Akmal Hashmi, a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative was produced in a court in Mumbai on Sunday for his alleged involvement in the July 11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Hashmi, who was arrested by the Indian Army in south Kashmir on August 23, was sent to police custody till September 13.

He has been charged with conspiracy and declared as the 10th accused to be arrested in connection with the seven simultaneous serial bomb attacks on Mumbai's local trains on July 11, in which about 200 evening rush-hour commuters were killed and around 700 injured.

Akmal Hashmi, alias Abu Ahmed, is a divisional commander of the little known militant group Al-Badr. He was brought to Mumbai late on Saturday.

"Hashmi is one of the key suspects in the July 11 blasts. He is the first accused to be arrested in connection with the Mahim blasts and the 10th accused to be arrested in connection with the July 11 blasts," said Mumbai police Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi.

"Hashmi was arrested by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and was interrogated there during which he reportedly revealed that he had knowledge about the LeT plan of carrying out serial blasts in suburban trains in Mumbai on July 11."

The Al-Badr militant, however, denied any direct role in the Mumbai blasts. "I had no hand in the Mumbai serial blasts. I have no intentions of lying. I got to know that there were 16 men, some from Kashmir and some from Pakistan," Hashmi told reporters in Mumbai on Sunday.

The ATS believes that one of the blast victims, whose body is still lying unclaimed at a Mumbai hospital morgue, could possibly be a suicide bomber.

"Though Hashmi claimed that the LeT had dispatched 17 operatives to Mumbai to execute the plan and 16 returned to the Kashmir valley after carrying out the seven simultaneous bomb attacks, sources in Kashmir police said that his testimony was highly unreliable," a senior ATS official connected with the blasts probe said.

"After initial interrogations, they found nothing linking him to the July 11 attacks. He also claims that though he had the knowledge of the blast plans, he himself had no hand in the serial blasts," the ATS official pointed out.

"A decision on whether Hashmi would be booked in the case or any other legal action initiated against him would be taken after his interrogation," Raghuvanshi said.

"Hashmi will be interrogated by an Anti-Terrorism Squad to ascertain whether he is involved in July 11 blasts," the ATS chief added.

Meanwhile, two of the nine other Mumbai serial blasts accused - Kamal Ahmed Sheikh and Tanvir Ansari - were taken to Bangalore on Sunday for conducting a series of scientific tests on them, ATS sources said.

Lie detector, brain mapping and narco tests would be conducted on the duo at the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Bangalore on Monday.

ATS believe that the two men have information on the blasts that took place at Matunga, Jogeshwari and Khar in north-west suburban Mumbai.

Ansari is a doctor of unani medicine and Ahmed, believed to be a key suspect, was held in Bihar.