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The Quint Exclusive: Were SIMI Men ‘Caught’ in Bhopal jail before Encounter?

Bhopal: Even as the Madhya Pradesh police and the state’s BJP leadership have spun an incredible story of a daring jailbreak by the eight alleged Students’ Islamic Movement of India activists in Bhopal, it is suspected that the undertrials were nabbed within the prison complex before being gunned down in Manikhedi Patthar village about 30 kms from the state headquarters.

While the police are tight-lipped about the entire “operation” that led to the elimination of the SIMI activists, three of whom had earlier tried to escape from Khandwa jail in August 2013, The Quint’s sources in Bhopal said that the undertrials tried to flee the jail after badly injuring a warder, Ramesh Shankar, who subsequently died.

“After assaulting Shankar, the SIMI activists went past a billet (manned by one warder) but were nabbed some distance from the main entrance to the prison,” a source told The Quint.

The source added that the presence of dry fruit, extra clothes and the country-made revolvers (katta) on the accused persons suggest “foul play” which the police and the state BJP establishment have sought to cover up.

The Bhopal Central Jail is known to be one of the safest prisons in Madhya Pradesh. But a lot of questions surrounding the encounter were raised.

According to the police, they tracked them down to Malikheda, where they were encircled and killed the SIMI members when they tried to challenge the police.

Encounter can be justified only in the case of exchange of fires.  But Home minister Bhoopendra Singh told NDTV that they had weapons made of spoons and plates but no guns. The only weapons that were recovered from them were knives.

The question here is why did the police did not capture them alive and kill them in cold blood?

Were CCTVs install at Bhopal Jail?

The sources said that what is crucial is whether the 360 degree CCTV cameras were functioning properly.  If they were install and were functioning, then why the manpower available to monitor didn’t raised alarm?

If they were, there is no doubt that the so-called jailbreak would have been captured by the cameras.

How come not even a single watchtowers, who were manned by the armed Special Police force noticed  the escape.

Questions are also being raised over the SIMI activists managing to procure three kattas within eight to nine hours of their alleged escape from the prison.

Why did all SIMI activists didn’t disperse to avoid detection? Why  they stick together after escaping from jail?

Oppositions’ doubts and suggested it as a larger ‘conspiracy’. “It is a serious issue. First SIMI activists fled the Khandwa Jail. Now they have fled from Bhopal jail. I have been reiterating that RSS activists and other similar organisations are behind the anti-Muslim riots in the country. It should be probed whether there is someone behind this or not,” said Singh. “Were terrorists made to escape?” Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked.

AAP MLA Alka Lamba questioned the encounter and asked how could all the 8 suspects be killed at the same spot.

Is the Encounter Fake or Genuine? What really happened. Why the 8 men were killed in an encounter? There are several unanswered questions on the Bhopal jail encounter.

With The Quint inputs