Jailbreak shows SIMI alive, kicking in MP
Many places in Madhya Pradesh such as Ujjain and Khandwa have reportedly turned fertile breeding grounds for SIMI operatives.bhopal Updated: Nov 01, 2016 12:33 IST
The daring escape of eight operatives of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from the Bhopal Central Jail has put paid to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government’s claim that the banned organisation no longer exists in the state.
On the contrary, many places such as Ujjain and Khandwa have reportedly turned fertile breeding grounds for SIMI operatives. State police officers, who had witnessed a similar jailbreak in Khandwa three years ago, believe such incidents cannot occur without the help of accomplices outside the prison.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a police officer who has been actively involved in the anti-SIMI campaign said many of its operatives were arrested over the years. Of the 29 housed in Bhopal jail, eight escaped and were later killed in an encounter. Sleeper cells in Ujjain, Indore and Khandwa were also destroyed.
However, many operatives and sleeper cells continue to operate in the state, the officer said. “Though we destroyed the SIMI base here, it would be naïve to say that SIMI has been completely eliminated. Until and unless the SIMI ideology is replaced with a wise one in the minds of people, the state will continue to be a breeding ground for activists. That’s the job of sociologists and government officials,” he added.
Former SIMI chief Safdar Nagori, hailing from Mahidpur in Ujjain, was reportedly instrumental in marginalising liberals in the organisation and turning it into a group of religious extremists. A firm believer in armed jihad and the establishment of a Shariya-based society, he joined hands with Pakistani spy agency ISI and several terror groups operating in the sub-continent. Nagori exhorted youngsters to join the outfit, expanding its presence across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
SIMI was banned in Madhya Pradesh in 2002, when police realised what Nagori was up to. Cases were lodged against SIMI activists, and several members were arrested in a raid at Ujjain’s Topkhana area. Later, a seven-year-long manhunt attained fruition when Nagori was arrested near Peethampur industrial area in 2008. Twelve top SIMI operatives, including the SIMI chief’s brother Kamaruddin, were also nabbed in the police raid.
Abu Faisal alias Doctor, who was studying Unani medicine in Indore, then took over as SIMI chief. Faisal was arrested at Barwani in 2013 for the murder of anti-terrorist squad constable Sitaram Yadav, among other crimes, and imprisoned in Khanwa jail.
Doctor was one among the six SIMI activists who escaped from the Khandwa district jail on October 1, 2013. Two of the fugitives were later killed in an encounter in Telangana, and 15 operatives were arrested in raids at Sendhwa in Barwani district, Solapur in Maharashtra and Mahidpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Police later learnt that bombs made by SIMI operatives in Mahidpur were used in blasts at Mumbai and other parts of the country. They were also planning to target BJP leaders with the explosives during the 2013 assembly elections.