Is it a mere coincidence or a strategic move that eight SIMI operatives on Monday escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail in the wee hours, a time when most operations by the outfit as well as against it were carried out in the recent past.
The Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested Abu Faisal and three activists of the outlawed group from a house in Barwani after midnight on December 24, 2013. Notably, they had escaped from Shahid Loknayak Tantya Bhil District Jail in Khandwa around 2am on October 1, 2013.
The organisation’s connection with the wee hours did not end there. On January 1, 2014, four of its suspected operatives were arrested by MP Police and its Counter Terrorist Group in Ujjain during a late night operation. A huge cache of explosives was seized from the four, identified as Javed Nagori, Abdul Aziz, Mohammad Adil and Abdul Wahi.
Even outside Madhya Pradesh, the same trend was noticed when two suspected members of the SIMI – Aslam and Zakir-- were killed in an encounter in Nalgonda district of Telangana during the wee hours of April 4, 2015.
On February 19, 2016, three SIMI activists Sheikh Mehboob, Amjad Khan and Zakir Hussain were arrested in a post-midnight joint operation by Telangana and Odisha Police with the help of Intelligence Bureau in Rourkela. Another of their associates Mohammad Salik and Sheikh Mehboob’s mother Najma Bi too were arrested in the early hours.
Following the same time-cycle, the eight operatives on Monday made their escape from the high-security jail between 2am and 5am.
When HT tried to find out the reason behind this pattern, experts attributed it to a sleep cycle.
Elaborating on the phenomenon, renowned psychologist Vinay Mishra said, “There are two stages of sleep. One is the rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, that occurs between 2am and 4am, and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage which is just after one sleeps and just before one is about to get up. In the REM stage, one is either supposed to dream deeply or sleep deeply. During this period, one experiences the deepest sleep of the night. And it is hard to wake up at this point unlike during the NREM stage.”
So the REM stage was the perfect time for both criminals and security apparatus to carry out any operation to catch their opponents off guard, he said.
“Secondly, during those hours of the night not many people used to be outdoor. So it is the safest inactive and non-vigilant time zone to perform both kinds of operations,” added Mishra.
Former Madhya Pradesh -DGP Subhash Tripathi too endorsed the theory saying both criminals and security apparatus try to take advantage of the slumberous state of their rivals.
Apart from that, he said, police and security forces also prefer the time to avoid any collateral damage. “We don’t want to cause inconveniences to common citizens and that is also another reason why most of the operations are carried out between 2am and 4am,” he pointed out.
Another former MP DGP Dinesh Jugran said it was a common practice among the police and security forces to carry out major operations in the wee hours.
“The surgical strike too happened in the early hours of the day. Osama Bin Laden too was neutralized in the wee hours,” he added.