As questions continue to be raised over Bhopal encounter, the country’s human rights watchdog has issued notices to the Madhya Pradesh government and state police for the shooting of eight members of the Students Islamic Movement of India.
In this matter The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sent notices the state’s chief secretary, director general of police, director general of prisons and inspector general of prisons. The notice asks for detailed reports in the matter within six weeks.
The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report on the case and observed that it has always been “concerned” about deaths in police and judicial custody as well as in police action.
On October 31, eight terror suspects of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), pulled off a daring prison break and escaped the high security Bhopal Central Jail after killing a security guard Ramashankar Yadav.
According to Bhopal IG Yogesh Choudhary, the alleged terrorists, identified as Amjad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid, escaped the Bhopal Central Jail between 2 am – 3 am in the night. They used weapons made of utensils. They escaped the 35 feet walls using bedsheets after slitting the throat of Ramashankar Yadav.
According to police, the under-trials, facing treason charges, were killed in cross-fire about 30 km north of Bhopal, within 10 hours of the jailbreak. The official explanation of their killing has forced many to question if the encounter is another evidence of extra-judicial killing of inmates.
The police had said that the eight men had weapons, and they fired on them, and all of them were killed in the cross-firing.
Soon after the incident, several videos have emerged showing exposed several loopholes in the claims made by police. The Opposition, along with human rights’ activists have raised serious apprehensions regarding the encounter, with some calling it ‘fake’.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan congratulated the security force for the killing, calling their escape from jail a serious matter which must be probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“The ‘escape’ of 8 under trial-prisoners from Bhopal Central Jail, and then their killing by ATS raises serious questions. There must be a time-bound judicial inquiry into their killings, and disturbing inconsistencies in versions of the state govt & the police,” Yechury tweeted.
Expressing concern, Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has alleged that video clips, circumstances of the encounter and other facts “substantiate that it was a fake encounter.”
Soon after the incident, Digvijaya took to Twitter to ask whether prisoners escaped or they were made to escape as part of a plan. The Congress, the Left parties and other Opposition parties joined in unison in questioning the veracity of the accounts given by the state police.