Eight SIMI activists managed to escape from the high-security Bhopal Jail late last year because the Special Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed to guard them were sleeping on the job, a preliminary report prepared by the prison department has stated.
The document, which could become a major embarrassment for the Madhya Pradesh government, also stated that the CCTV cameras meant for keeping a watch on the escapees’ cell were not functioning.
The SIMI activists had fled from prison in the wee hours of October 31, 2016. They were killed by police personnel in the outskirts of the city a few hours later, raising an outcry from rights activists as well as members of the Muslim community.
A source said the SIMI activists killed a prison guard and escaped by scaling the boundary wall even as eight SAF personnel slept just 50 metres away. As they had been positioned in two groups with a clear view of the terror suspects’ cell, the escape could have been prevented with a shout or a single gunshot if they were awake, he added.
Director general (jails) Sanjay Choudhary said it was surprising that no action has been taken against the personnel for dereliction of duty, considering that the report was submitted to the SAF some time ago. This was in stark contrast to the punitive action taken against all the jail officers present on the prison premises during the time of the escape. Security personnel from the seventh and 32nd battalions had been stationed at the jail.
Jayadevan A – the commandant in-charge of the seventh battalion – said a departmental inquiry has been initiated on the basis of the preliminary report, and action will be taken once the probe is complete. BP Chandravangshi, the commandant of the 32nd battalion, could not be contacted because he was travelling.
The eight SAF personnel named in the report are ASI Doli Singh and head constable Kanchedi Lal, besides constables Makhan Singh, Deenbandhu, Rakesh Sahu, Mukesh Chauhan, Himangshu Tomar and Rajesh Chouhan.