|Abdul Karim Tunda at the court in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Aug. 20: Abdul Karim Tunda was assaulted by a suspected activist of a little-known Hindu outfit in a packed court compound here today, the attack exposing chinks in Delhi police’s cover for their “most prized catch” in years.
Shiv Kumar Raghav kicked the 70-year-old Tunda in his abdomen after an attempt to slap him in the face was foiled by police personnel escorting the Lashkar bomb-maker at the Patiala House Courts, near India Gate.
Raghav, 40, shouted “Tunda is a traitor, he should be hanged”, as he was overpowered and dragged away by the police.
The 3.50pm incident, which occurred while Tunda was taken off a police van inside the court premises and was being escorted to the courtroom, stunned some of the cops as they remained mute spectators for a while.
Magistrate Jay Thareja later ordered tighter security for Tunda while extending his police custody till Friday. He also held the proceedings in-camera after some lawyers started shouting slogans against Tunda in the courtroom.
Raghav, an activist of RSS fringe group Hindu Sena, has been arrested along with an aide, deputy commissioner of police S.P.S. Tyagi said. “Both are Hindu Sena activists and are being questioned,” another officer said.
Lawyers and other witnesses said they had seen the duo and some others camp near the court premises since the morning.
“The attack showed complete police failure in providing security to one of the most dreaded militants… anything could have happened. He (Tunda) is such a valuable catch for our agencies but cops don’t seem bothered about his security. What if anybody shot him dead?” asked Anil Agarwal, a lawyer who witnessed the assault.
Inside the courtroom where Tunda was produced for extension of remand, public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan sought 10 days saying the police needed more time to interrogate him over his links with terror outfits in Pakistan where the Ghaziabad native spent the past 15 years.
Tunda also has to be taken to three states for investigations over 40 attacks in north India, Mohan said. But the magistrate allowed only four days.
Arrested on Friday, Tunda was one of the 20 most wanted terrorists India had asked Pakistan to hand over after the Mumbai attacks.
“He (Tunda) told the court that he was only imparting religious teachings in madarsas in Pakistan and had nothing to do with jihad,” M.S. Khan, Tunda’s counsel, told reporters.
Tunda used his network of operatives in Bangladesh to smuggle fake Indian currency on the instructions of a “brigadier” in ISI, the police have claimed.
Tunda worked with an Indian-origin ISI operative, Iqbal Kana, who received the notes from the brigadier. “Kana used to give the notes to Tunda to be pushed into India through Bangladesh,” an officer said. Tunda hasn’t named the brigadier yet. Security agencies say Kana funnels fake notes with a face value of around Rs 1,600 crore into India each year.