Police shot dead five suspected terrorists on the border of the Warangal and Nalgonda districts in Telangana when they allegedly tried to escape while being taken to court, with officials worried about rising extremism in the newly-formed state.
The incident occurred when a police escort team was bringing the criminals from Warangal jail to a Hyderabad court to stand trial in cases related to terrorist activities. Near Aler on the Warangal-Hyderabad highway, they tried to snatch weapons from police officials, who fought back and killed the prisoners, sources said.
"All five were involved in extremist activities and a series of criminal cases. They requested the police to stop the van on the pretext of answering nature's call," said Naveen Chand, inspector general of police, Warangal.
Officials said one of the prisoners, Vikaruddin, had a history of terrorist activities and killed two policemen. He reportedly was associated with the Darsgah Jihad-o-Shahadath (DJS) – an affiliate of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India -- and was arrested in 2010.
"Vikaruddin took the cops by surprise by snatching a weapon from one of the policemen. His associates joined him and overpowered the security personnel. In an unavoidable situation, police had to open fire at them," Chand added. A group of 18 armed policemen was accompanying them and a sub-inspector was injured in the incident.
Vikaruddin’s family, however, cried foul, saying the encounter was a plot by the police to get rid of the undertrials.
The incident comes days after Telangana Police on Saturday gunned down two SIMI terrorists, who killed two security personnel. Four policemen have so far died in terror-related activities, all of which have been reported from the Nalgonda district.
The SIMI has been described by the Supreme Court as a secessionist movement and has been allegedly involved in several bomb blasts in the last decade, officials say.