Bhopal: Eight SIMI activists were today killed in an alleged encounter with police on the outskirts of the city hours after they escaped from the high-security Bhopal Central Jail killing a security guard but questions cropped up over the encounter.
As a controversy raged over the police action after the daring pre-dawn jail-break, TV channels showed footage purportedly from the encounter site in which a policeman is seen pumping bullets into a man from close range after some unidentified person takes out what appears to be a knife said to be in a plastic cover and places it back.
The activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India(SIMI), two of whom were involved in a similar jail- break in Khandwa three years ago, managed to escape around 2-3 AM after killing a jail security guard by scaling the prison wall with the help of bed sheets, DIG Bhopal Raman Singh said.
Acting on the leads provided by locals, the undertrials were tracked down to Malikheda where they were encircled and killed when they tried to challenge the police, a police official said.
All the eight activists were killed by Bhopal Police at Malikheda on the city outskirts, Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told PTI.
The eight activists were identified as Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid, a police official said.
The National Investigation Agency(NIA) will probe the jail-break even as contradictions surfaced on the encounter.
The jail superintendent was among four officials suspended by the Madhya Pradesh government.
IG Yogesh Choudhary said the fleeing SIMI activists had weapons in their possession and opened fire when confronted and the police fired in retaliation, in comments that appeared to contradict the Home Minister’s statement.
Bhupendra Singh said the undertrials used spoons and plates they carried from the prison as weapons to attack the security personnel. Asked for his comments on the TV footage that appeared to contradcit encounter theory, he maintained that it was an encounter and police had no option but to eliminate them.
At a brief media interaction, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the jail-break would be probed by the NIA but parried a question on the encounter. He said the state government will also carry out a separate investigation into the matter.
Soon after the incident, the state government released the sketches of the eight activists and suspended four officials including Jail Superintendent Akhilesh Tomar. The government also announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh each on the heads of the activists..