A court here on Friday extended by 10 days the NIA custody of four Kashmiri separatists arrested on charges of receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting in Kashmir.
During the in-camera proceedings, Special Judge O.P. Saini allowed the National Investigation Agency to quiz Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah till August 14.
Three accused — Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate — were remanded in judicial custody by the court till September 1.
Allowing the NIA plea to extend its custody of the four separatists, the court pointed to the serious nature of allegations against them and the large expanse of investigation to be conducted by the agency.
The four men are required to be confronted with evidence gathered, Special Public Prosecutor Siddharth Luthra earlier told the court.
Court sources quoted Luthra as saying that electronic evidences are also required to be retrieved and analysed.
As investigation is to be conducted in far off places in Jammu and Kashmir and other states, and maybe even overseas, the remand of the four accused be extended, the NIA pleaded.
Defence counsel Ravi Qazi and Rajat Kumar opposed the NIA plea and said the accused have been falsely implicated in the case and had cooperated in the investigation.
Defence counsel told the court that the accused have already been in police custody for the last 10 days and the agency had failed to show as to what it had done during this period.
The NIA said investigation in the case is not yet complete and to facilitate further probe, the remaining three accused may be remanded in judicial custody for 30 days.
The sources said the NIA had requested for keeping the remand application in a sealed cover due to investigation pending in the case, which was allowed by the court till the next date of hearing.
On July 24, the NIA had arrested seven key Kashmiri separatists. Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam and Ayaz Akbar Khandey were arrested from Srinagar while Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate was arrested from Delhi.
On July 25, the court had sent all seven to 10-day NIA custody.
They were booked on charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against India.
Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, while Islam is a close aide of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Ayaz Akbar is the spokesperson for the Geelani-led Hurriyat.