The Madhya Pradesh government has announced cash rewards for several villagers for helping security forces track down and kill eight SIMI fugitives last month, but records suggest most of the villagers had called an emergency police number while the encounter was already on.
The police claim the SIMI activists who had broken out of the Bhopal jail were killed on October 31 in an encounter that took place between 10.45am and 11.45 am in the capital’s outskirts. They said the villagers had called the police control room and alerted them about the fugitives in the vicinity.
But out of the four calls received alerting the police about the SIMI men, three were made while the encounter was underway. One was at 11.02am, followed by two back-to-back calls at 11.09am.
The caller who dialled 100 at 11.02am actually told the police that he was following the fugitives headed towards a hillock near Khijradev village.
The call records that seem to dispute the police version of the events further deepen the mystery over the encounter that activists have slammed as staged.
The state government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the jail break and the encounter following a public outcry.
State officials refused to comment on why locals who had called while the encounter was on were being rewarded. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan felicitated the villagers and announced a collective award of Rs 40 lakhs at a public function in Bhopal a day after the encounter. The cash reward, however, has been kept in abeyance since the judicial probe is completed.
Amit Saxena, the superintendent of police of police control room, said three response vehicles (FRV) were rushed to the spot after getting the calls, but refused to comment on the inconsistencies in the timings. He said it would be improper to comment since a judicial probe is on.
Mohan Singh Meena, the village sarpanch who was among the villagers honoured by the CM, dismissed the inconsistency as ‘mere coincidence’. He said it was improper to question the encounter deaths.