Suspected SIMI operative Aqeel Khlji, who failed to escape from prison during the 2013 Khandwa jailbreak and is said to be the mastermind behind the October 31 jailbreak, allegedly came up with a simple mantra for his fellow felons — stay fit and agile to necessitate a successful escape from prison.
At least three of the eight who escaped from Bhopal Central Jail last week were involved in the Khandwa jailbreak in 2013.
Ongoing investigations into the jailbreak have indicated that the entire plot was hatched at least four months ago, during the auspicious month of Ramzan. While devising the plot, the suspects had analysed in detail the previous October 1, 2013 jailbreak at Tantya Bheel Jail in Khandwa district, when six SIMI men led by self-styled Madhya Pradesh SIMI chief Abu Faisal alias Doctor had escaped from prison, using knotted bedsheets as climbing rope.
According to sources privy to the investigations, it has come to the fore that during the Khandwa jailbreak, middle-aged Aqeel Khilji was unable to escape due to his excessive flab and heavy weight. Learning from their mistakes, the Ramzan plot hatched in Bhopal Central Jail prominently focused on being fit and agile.
To achieve this objective, the SIMI men unfailingly worked out in the open enclosure of the jail’s B Block during the daytime. They also focused on consuming lesser food than normal, ensuring that excess rotis (chapatis) were concealed in cells and allowed to dry for being used as fuel to mold toothbrush handles into duplicate keys of the cells.
Khilji’s failure to escape using a climbing rope three years ago also prompted the SIMI men to manufacture a makeshift ladder out of 36 knotted bedsheets and wooden planks. This further suggests he was the key to their plans post jailbreak in the absence of Abu Faisal, who was lodged in the adjoining A Block of the prison.
With ongoing investigations gradually pointing towards the jailbreak having been hatched during Ramzan, the investigators are particularly zeroing in on mulaqatis (visitors) who met the SIMI men at Bhopal Central jail during that period.
The suspects, however, replicated various other steps from the Khandwa jailbreak, spanning from setting the time of action between 2 am and 3 am and manufacturing knives out of steel plates, to fashioning razor-like objects out of spoons, used by the suspects to shave their beards outside the jail.
Similarly, the SIMI men escaped in one large group instead of broken groups. The probe suggests that just like the Khandwa jailbreak, the suspects wanted to first spend the first 48-72 hours after the escape in some desolate hilltop or dense forest area, before fleeing to other states, as they have contacts in Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Khandwa and Bhopal jailbreaks: A comparison
2 am-3am chosen as time to escape
Spoons and plates used to make knives and shaving razors
Suspects escaped in one group rather than different groups
Beards shaved in jungles once outside the prison
Spend 48-72 hours on desolate hillock or forests before making next move
Bedsheets used to climb out of jail
Suspects made makeshift ladder instead of making a climbing rope
Suspects focused on shedding flab and becoming agile to escape
Aqeel Khilji and not Abu Faisal could have been key to future destructive plan
The suspects kill a jail guard before escaping