Eight SIMI activists were killed on Monday in an alleged encounter with police on the outskirts of Bhopal hours after they escaped from the high-security Bhopal Central Jail killing a security guard but questions have emerged over the encounter. This is the second major jail-break by operatives of SIMI in three years after the sensational escape by seven members of the group from a jail in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh in 2013. According to eyewitnesses, the terrorists' hurled stones on the villagers and police before being gunned down in 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.
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 Madhya Pradesh Home Minister's statement.
State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the under-trials 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 contradict his theory, he maintained that it was an encounter and police had no option but to eliminate them.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said a probe by NIA is not enough, as it would be in the interest of justice that an apex court-monitored probe is ordered.
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath said, "SIMI activists have escaped from the jail which is a high security prison, and within few hours they have not only been traced but killed. Now they can't be questioned, there is no evidence, their statements cannot be recorded. I am demanding a judicial probe because even the government must know under what circumstances they escaped."
Congress leader Digvijay Singh, a former chief minister of MP, also demanded a probe.