There is surge of curiosity among the youth in Bhopal, particularly in the old city area about the banned SIMI and its operatives following the audacious jailbreak and the killing of eight undertrial prisoners belonging to the outfit on October 31.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, many youth from Old Bhopal told HT that many of them were searching online about SIMI and the eight men who were killed in the encounter.
“Police kills eight unarmed youth at the same spot in our city. They are martyrs for us. After their martyrdom, my friends and I googled about them to see what they had done and what made them join SIMI,” said a 23-year-old man near Peergate in Old Bhopal.
Another 17-year-old student said he watched different TV news channels, video clips on WhatsApp and even read some newspapers, but couldn’t understand clearly what happened that day and why only these eight SIMI men escaped and were killed.
“We also checked on the Internet. There is lot of information on SIMI, how it started and so on, but not much information on these eight men,” he said.
Sahil from the old city said there is lot of misinformation about the incident in the public and the media. “We don’t know what actually happened and why they were killed, but it is a natural thing that we want closure on this issue. Otherwise it will keep haunting our conscience,” he said.
There is palpable anger among some sections of the youth over the encounter, which they allege was “staged”. They feel it needs to be probed in a transparent manner. Many youngsters had come from Old Bhopal to the Hamidia Hospital mortuary on Tuesday when the bodies of the SIMI operatives were handed over to their families
Many had tears in their eyes. They didn’t say anything and left the spot after some time. Two days later in the huge gathering after the Friday prayers in and outside the Tarjume Wali mosque, the agitated young men raised slogans and spoke openly about the incident.
Many of them spoke to HT and shared their feelings and raised many questions on the encounter. Some of them doubted that justice would be done in this case. “We know what happens in such cases. We may never know the official truth, but in our hearts we do,” said a youth in his 20s.
The rage among the youth over the incident is a cause for worry for many. Some are apprehensive that given the questions the encounter has raised, they could be used by terror elements to recruit the youth into SIMI or any other outfit.
Muslim leaders say the anger among the youth is natural as this is the first such incident which the young generation has come across. Masood Ahmed Khan, secretary, Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims Madhya Pradesh said the scale of the incident was bound to create a stir in the minds of the youth.
“There are so many unanswered questions, but we are trying our best to calm the agitated youth and ensure they don’t take any such step that vitiates the atmosphere here. In Bhopal, we have ensured that nobody disturbs the communal harmony. But if justice is not delivered in this case, we can’t say anything where this anger will lead these youngsters”, he cautioned.