The whereabouts of one of the prime eyewitnesses of the dramatic jailbreak by eight SIMI undertrials from the Bhopal Central Jail is now shrouded in mystery.
Chandan Singh and Ramashankar Yadav were on guard on the intervening night of October 30 and 31, when the incident occurred. During his statement to investigators, he said he was tied up by the eight who killed Yadav and escaped by scaling the boundary wall of the jail by constructing a makeshift ladder by tying wooden planks to bed sheets,.
Singh was last seen in public at Yadav’s funeral on November 1.
Sources privy to the investigation told HT that he is living under constant security cover and is being questioned about the jailbreak. When HT reached his residence (which cannot be disclosed due to security reasons), his house was found locked from the outside, with no trace of his family’s whereabouts.
One of his neighbours, who identified himself as GK Patil, told HT that Singh last came to his house to meet his family on October 31 at around 11 pm.
“He was shivering with shock and fear after the incident and was feeling very lucky that he was spared by the eight, who were later killed in an encounter,” said Patil, adding that he was continuously crying while talking to the neighbours.
Patil further said that Singh has not been allowed to meet anyone till the inquiry is over. “Due to security reasons, his family has also been moved to an undisclosed location,” he said.
HT tried to contact Bhopal Central Jail superintendent Dinesh Nargave to know about Singh but he did not answer the phone.
State politics heats up over ‘encounter’
With the by-elections to the Shahdol Lok Sabha seat and Nepanagar assembly seat just around the corner, the jailbreak by eight suspected SIMI operatives and their subsequent death in an encounter is heating up politics in Madhya Pradesh.
While BJP is accusing Congress of playing “dirty politics” over the encounter, the Congress has alleged that BJP is using the references about the alleged encounter for vote bank politics in Shahdol.
The Facebook page ‘BJP4Shahdol’ has uploaded a video of Shivraj Singh Chouhan taken on November 4, in which the chief minister wonders aloud why the Congress gets distressed when “terrorists, who slit the throat of a police constable”, are killed.
Congress spokesperson KK Mishra said that Chouhan’s speech was a serious issue. “The way Chouhan had made references about undertrial SIMI men as terrorists is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct as it can fuel communal tension in the state,” he said. He further said that the Congress will lodge a written compliant along with the copy of the video to the election commission.
Meanwhile, BJP chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said as a political activist, Chouhan was free to give his views on any issue in any election rally. He questioned why the Congress was “getting unnerved” over the strong stand taken by the state over the encounter.