The jailbreak by eight SIMI undertrials from central jail on diwali night and their killing in a subsequent encounter at Manikkheda Pathar, nine kilometrers away from jail, in presence of scores of villagers in daylight has raised many questions.
While chief minister Shivraj Singh announced a high level inquiry by National Investigation Agency (NIA), the lawyer of SIMI activists Parvez Alam raised questions over the manner in which the eight escaped and later killed by the police.
"It is surprising that eight men escaped from a high-security prison and they were killed within hours. On whose instigation did they come out of jail and who is behind the act? It should be investigated," he said.
The state BJP and its local MLAs rejoiced over the killing and played drums amidst bursting crackers in Bhopal. According to home minister of Madhya Pradesh Bhupendra Singh, "the terrorist were killed in an encounter when a villager informed about their presence in the wee hours."
However the encounter became controversial after statements of two senior police officers. Bhopal IG of police Yogesh Choudhry said that the SIMI operatives were armed while IG of ATS Sanjeev Shami said that they were largely unarmed.
According to eyewitness from Manikhenda Pathar and Acharpur villages, the fugitives were wearing identical shoes and clothes.
Out of nearly two dozens SIMI activists lodged in bhopal jail, the eight SIMI under trials including Mujeeb Sheikh, Mohd Sadik, Mehboob Guddu, Aqeel, Zakir Hussain, Abdul Majid, Amzad and Mohd Khalid fled last night.
This was the second successful attempt by SIMI operatives who attempted a similar jailbreak three years back. On October 2 2013, SIMI prisoners escaped from Khandwa jail. Some of them were arrested later on.
These SIMI activists were lodged in jail for the Khandwa jail break case and terror related activities, including the killing of an ATS constable Sitaram Yadav. These activists were lodged in high security Bhopal central jail near Army Headquarters of 21 Corps Sudarshan Chakra.
According to Bhopal police, the eight criminals fled after killing a jail head constable Ramashankar Yadav while tying another jail guard with ropes. They used a rope made of bed-sheets to scale the 32 feet wall.
Police said that they escaped around 2 am when there was a change of guard in jail premises. Around 3.15 am, the police swung into action and the photos of all jail-birds was released. It was around 9 am that the sarpanch of village Manikheda Pathar, Mukesh Meena, was informed by a secuirty guard that some suspected men were seen near a water stream.
Sarpanch informed the local police about the presence of suspected men whose photos were identified by the local villagers. Later, the anti-terror-squad of state police reached the village where the villagers had already engaged the suspected men. According to eye-witnesses, the police killed all the eight men.
Meanwhile the state Congress president Arun Yadav demanded a high level inqiury as to how an undertrial could escape from a high security jail. Bhopal jail is categorised as ISO certified jail. Yadav said "the way the entire jail escape and later the encounter took place is shrouded in mystery".
After the incident Chief Minister removed the ADG of jail Sushobhan Banerjee, DIG of jail, and suspended jail Superintendent and jailor including three others.
Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said, “we have suspended superintendent of jail and four other officers. An inquiry has been instituted under former DGP Nandan Dube to give report in 24 hours”.
Earlier these SIMI operatives had shouted slogans against prime minister Modi just a day after BJP formed goverment in May 2014.
Bhopal police has received a threat from SIMI in July, regarding serial bomb blast at Bhopal court. Later it turned out to be a hoax.
After serious threat perception from intelligence, the court hearing in the cases related to SIMI were done through video conference from Bhopal jail.