Civil society seeks thorough probe into Bhopal SIMI ‘encounter’ deaths | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Civil society seeks thorough probe into Bhopal SIMI ‘encounter’ deaths

Members of several civil society groups and eminent citizens of Bhopal questioned authenticity of the alleged encounter in which eight operatives of the proscribed Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were killed on Monday.

bhopal Updated: Nov 04, 2016 11:42 IST
All India Secular Forum
Activists, NGO workers, lawyers and writers discuss the recent encounter of eight SIMI operatives, in Bhopal on Thursday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT photo)

Members of several civil society groups and eminent citizens of Bhopal questioned authenticity of the alleged encounter in which eight operatives of the proscribed Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were killed on Monday.

After series of discussions on Thursday, NGO workers, representatives of political parties, former bureaucrats, writers, lawyers and others demanded a “thorough probe into the incident.”

The BJP-led government in the state is already under fire from the opposition leaders, who claim there are several loopholes in the government’s version of the incident.

The state police claimed that the eight were killed in a gun battle hours after they escaped from the high-security Bhopal Central Jail killing a prison guard.

Retired IAS officer and right to food activist Harsh Mander, writer Rajesh Joshi, social activist Sachin Jain, lawyer Parvez Alam and others attended the meeting convened by chief convener of the All India Secular Forum L S Hardenia.

The meeting also decided to form a “secular committee” to hold discussions and meeting across the state on the issue.

“The meeting was attended by prominent citizens and everybody was of the view that the so called encounter was a cold-blooded murder. The kinds of wounds that have been found on the bodies of the eight SIMI members indicate that they were brutally shot from all directions,” Hardenia told HT.

“Several videos that have gone viral also showed policemen firing even when the operatives were lying dead. We do not approve of this kind of an act,” he added.

Stating that the law of the land demands that if a criminal or an escapee wanted to surrender, then he or she should be given the chance to do so, he said there were evidences that showed two of the fugitives had raised their hands as a sign of giving in.

“All of us were of the opinion that had one or two operatives were caught alive, there would have been some light on their motives. We do not blame any officer or police department. This is a political conspiracy,” Hardenia alleged.

According to Mander, the alleged encounter raised several pertinent questions.

“I visited the site on Thursday morning and saw people moving around the place. There were blood stains everywhere. But shockingly the site was completely unprotected and unguarded,” he pointed out.

“In a criminal case like this extra precaution should have been taken to secure the site. It was a clear case of destruction of evidences. Secondly, the place where these SIMI men were killed has a steep drift and they were surrounded by all three sides. So, there was no way for them to jump or run away. They could have been easily caught and arrested alive,” he claimed.

He, however, said the way SIMI operatives managed to escape from a high security prison and kept roaming freely for seven to eight hours was a matter of concern as it was the “first time anything like that happened in MP.”

Commenting on the death of Central Jail head-constable Ramashankar Yadav, Hardenia said, “His daughter said Ramashankar was a cardiac patient and was unfit to guard cells where terrorists were lodged. They had been complaining this to Yadav’s seniors in vain. This is a case of human rights violation and we will ensure the family

gets justice.”