The nature and timing of the encounter has raised more questions than answers.

SIMI jailbreak encounter List of reasons why MP govt is being questionedImage: PTI
news News Wednesday, November 02, 2016 - 08:31

News broke on Monday morning (around 11:30 am) that all eight of the SIMI terror suspects under trial, were killed in an encounter within ten hours after they escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail.

The operation was carried out by commandos of the Special Task Force (STF), the anti-terror squad and the counter-terror group, the state government said.

The nature and timing of the encounter promptly triggered reactions from political leaders with the opposition questioning if the whole incident was ‘staged’.

Later, two videos (yet to be verified) of the ‘encounter’ played by TV channels, have only raised further questions about the killing of these eight SIMI members.

In one of the videos, a policeman is seen shooting a man lying on the ground, with an assault rifle from close range, while several other men are seen lying dead on the ground. Another police officer finds a knife on searching the jeans pocket of one of the suspects who is already dead.

In the second video, a group of men (likened to be the SIMI members) are seen on a hillock and a policeman is heard as saying, "Control! These five men are trying to talk to us. Three are trying to run away. Let's surround them!" and the video ends with bullet shots being heard.  

However, in both the videos, no cross firing is seen. The policemen are not seen taking cover and the person shooting the video also seems to be standing upright. More importantly, since the police have denied shooting the video, it raises another pertinent question as to who shot the video at the encounter spot.

Since the jailbreak, versions of the state authorities have been inconsistent leading to more doubts. The Madhya Pradesh Home Minister while speaking to TV reporters on Monday morning had said that the fugitives were armed with jail utensils and did not have any firearms with them. Later in the day, after the encounter, he said, "The police have said there was crossfire and they had no choice but to kill." Clarifying to NDTV, the minister said, "When I said earlier they didn't have weapons, I was talking about the jailbreak, not the encounter."  

IG Yogesh Choudhary, while addressing the media said that the SIMI members had shot six rounds with their country-made weapons to which the police replied with 46-47 rounds. The DGP later said that four country-made pistols and three knives were found with the bodies.

The IG’s statement was contradicted by the IG ATS who led the operations. He said that no cops were injured and the terror suspects were unarmed.

However, the injuries suffered by the police officer in the operation were from ‘sharp objects’. Meanwhile, the sarpanch of the village (8-10 km from Bhopal), where the encounter took place has claimed that the fugitives were only throwing stones at the police.

Irrespective of whether the terror suspects were armed, or if that amount of ammunition was required to neutralize the terrorists, the attire (jeans, T-shirt, belts) of the undertrials on the run suggests that they had assistance from outside the jail.

So naturally, questions are asked as to why if the SIMI members had help, they agreed to flee on foot and more so, when three of the eight had previously escaped jail.

Escape

Reports on Monday said that the eight SIMI activists had killed the jail warden by slitting his throat with jail utensils and they had tied up another policeman on their way out of the jail.

Many have questioned that given that the Bhopal Central Jail is a “high-security prison”, one wonders how they were not stopped at any point in between and how those eight men used toothbrush and wood to fashion keys for opening the prison locks.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan told the media that locals at the encounter site alerted the police which led to the successful operation and added that an NIA investigation will be conducted on the jailbreak after discussions with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

 

 

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