Police killed eight suspected members of the banned Students Islamic Federation of India (SIMI) in Madhya Pradesh in an encounter on Monday, hours after they escaped from a high-security jail in Bhopal.
Bhopal inspector general of police Yogesh Chaudhury told HT that the operation took place at Acharpura village, about five kilometers north-west of Bhopal Central Jail.
“We acted on intelligence and located the inmates. They fired on us and all eight were killed in crossfire,” he said.
The eight men had broken out of jail around 2am on Monday after killing one guard and holding another hostage. This was the second such jailbreak by members of the banned outfit in three years.
At a press conference in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the jailbreak was an incident of criminal negligence and the matter will be probed by the National Investigation Agency. The CM said he spoke to Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
“Details of the encounter will be released soon. The way they killed a guard and injured another, they were probably plotting a terror attack,” said state home minister Bhupendra Singh.
“Operation started at 4 am and we managed to gun them down at 11 am.”
Police told HT that the jail-breakers were accused in cases that included the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts, and explosions in Karimnagar, Pune and Chennai two years ago.
The SIMI was launched in 1977 to look after the welfare of Muslim youth but gradually adopted a more hardline ideology, especially after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. The government banned the outfit in 2001 but experts say many erstwhile members who went underground managed to stay in touch and expand their network.
Around 2am on Monday, the suspected SIMI men used knives fashioned out of jail spoons to kill guard Ramashankar Yadav in the isolated C Block where they were lodged, sources said. They then held another guard hostage between 2 and 3am before using bed sheets and wood lying around to make a ladder and climb out of the jail premises.
Police said this was identical to the manner in which four of these eight men escaped from the Tantya Bheel Jail in the state’s Khandwa district on October 1, 2013.