Bharuch murder case accused remanded in NIA custody

Bharuch, Dec 16 (IANS) A special court here on Wednesday remanded Nasirkhan Pathan, arrested in the murder case of two BJP leaders in Bharuch, in National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody till December 21.

The NIA produced Pathan, arrested on Tuesday, in a NIA court here and sought custody for 14 days. The in-camera proceedings by Principal Judge P.B. Desai were held on NIA request.

An NIA statement said Pathan allegedly provided the weapon for killing Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Shirish Bengali and Pragnesh Mistry on November 2.

Bengali was a former Bharuch district BJP president and senior RSS member while Mistry was general secretary of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha for the district. They were shot dead by two assailants.

Eleven people, including two sharpshooters, were arrested in the case that was initially investigated by the Bharuch Police and then by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad.

Police termed the killings an ‘act of terror’, citing alleged involvement of an absconding accused of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Javed Chikna.

The murder contracts were given by Chikna, apparently to avenge the Mumbai riots in 1993 and in Gujarat in 2002. Days before the case was handed over to the NIA, the ATS apprehended Chikna’s brother Abid Patel from the India-Nepal border.

The home ministry handed over the probe to the NIA early this month, following which the agency filed an FIR in the NIA court here on December 5.

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