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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Year after jailbreak and encounter of 8 ‘SIMI men’, kin have no hope of getting justice

The judicial commission, set up to probe the incident, has submitted its report to the government, and reportedly gives a clean chit to police.

bhopal Updated: Oct 30, 2017 19:50 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Activists have raised a number of questions over the alleged jailbreak and encounter, which happened exactly a year ago.
Activists have raised a number of questions over the alleged jailbreak and encounter, which happened exactly a year ago.(PTI FILE PHOTO)

All hopes of getting justice has faded for the near ones of the eight alleged SIMI operatives who were killed in a police encounter on the outskirts of Bhopal after a daring escape from prison, exactly a year ago.

Aqeel Khilji, Sheikh Mehboob alias Guddu, Zakir Hussain, Amjad Khan, Mohammed Saliq, Mujeeb Sheikh, Khalid Ahmad, and Majid were gunned down near Khejradev village early on October 31, 2016, after they escaped from Bhopal Central jail after killing head constable Ramashankar Yadav the night before, which happened to be Diwali last year.

Faced with controversy over “fake encounter” and jailbreak, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had set up a one-member judicial committee headed by justice (retd) S K Pandey to probe the incident.

In late September this year, the committee submitted its report to the government, which is likely to table it in the assembly during the winter session in December.

While justice (retd) Pandey refused to comment on the report, some media reports claimed the commission had given a clean chit to the police, which has not gone down well with the relatives of the deceased.

“We have no hope of getting justice from the judicial commission,” said Salman Khan, brother of Amjad Khan and a resident of Khandwa.

Khalil Khilji, nephew of Aqeel Khilji, said he had met the commission head, but didn’t expect justice from him after hearing his tone and tenor.

Talking to reporters in Bhopal on behalf of the coordination committee for Indian Muslims, MP unit, advocate Syed Sajid Ali said he didn’t think the judicial commission would give answers to the questions raised by media and relatives of those killed in the alleged “fake encounter”.

He said the commission didn’t allow them to cross examine the witnesses which was a must to reach any conclusion.

The evidence mentioned by police in the FIR, like weapons, locks, keys, bed sheets, etc. were not produced before the commission, which only saw the photographs of the alleged evidence.

Ali pointed out that the Bhopal central jail was ISO-certified, but the prisoners allegedly managed to break the locks, kill a constable and scale a 25–35 feet wall without being seen by anyone.

It was strange that none of the CCTV cameras in the jail were working that night, he noted.

Several other unanswered questions and circumstances suggested that they were killed in a fake encounter, he said.

The lawyer also alleged that the government had leaked the commission’s report to the media deliberately.

He said they could not expect anything from the government whose chief minister Chouhan had dubbed those killed as terrorists without any inquiry and despite the fact they were not convicted by any court.

“Once the judicial commission report is made public, we will move the high court to seek justice,” Ali said.

Vijay Shankar Yadav, nephew of the late warden Ramashankar Yadav said, “What had happened had happened. We have no complaint against the administration and the government which extended its help to us as announced. As far as murder of Ramashankar Yadav was concerned, it was clear from the circumstances as to who had killed him.”

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 19:10 IST