Madhya Pradesh police personnel get clean chit in alleged SIMI encounter

The use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons (SIMI men) was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances, said judicial commission probing the jailbreak and killings in Madhya Pradesh.
Police officers and special task force soldiers stand beside the bodies of the suspected members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who escaped the high security jail in Bhopal, and later got killed in an encounter at the Acharpura village on the outskirts of Bhopal on October 31, 2016.(Reuters file photo)
Police officers and special task force soldiers stand beside the bodies of the suspected members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who escaped the high security jail in Bhopal, and later got killed in an encounter at the Acharpura village on the outskirts of Bhopal on October 31, 2016.(Reuters file photo)
Updated on Jun 25, 2018 05:13 PM IST
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Bhopal, Hindustan Times | ByRanjan and Shruti Tomar

The one-man judicial commission probing the jailbreak and killings of eight activists of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in a gunbattle with Madhya Pradesh police in October 2016 has justified the encounter and cleared the personnel involved in the shooting.

The report submitted to the state government on August 24, 2017, by justice (retired) SK Pandey, who headed the commission, was tabled in the state assembly on the first day of the monsoon session on Monday.

“The encounter on 31 October 2016 done by police was reasonable under the prevailing circumstances. The action of the police was in consonance of the provision of law under sections 41 and 46 (2) (3) of the CrPC,” the report said.

“The use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances,” it added.

Eight SIMI activists were killed in Manikhedi Kot Pathar village on the outskirts of Bhopal eight hours after they escaped from Bhopal Central Jail by killing a guard.

Mohd Saliq, Zakir Hussain, Amjad Khan, Mehboob Guddu, Mohd Aqeel Khilji, Mujeeb Sheikh, Mohammad Khalid Ahmad and Abdul Majid were killed in the incident.

The commission, however, pulled up jail personnel for negligence, which it said led to the escape of SIMI operatives. It added that the jail department has named 10 people prima facie responsible for the incident in reference to the alleged negligence of jail and special armed force (SAF) personnel.

“Against these persons, a departmental inquiry has been initiated … Similarly, departmental inquiry against special armed force personnel on duty will determine their fate,” it added.

The commission recommended the state government should appoint a committee to examine the security measures to stop jailbreaks and that there should be training institute to train jail personnel.

Family members of some of those who were killed said the report was biased and they would move the high court or Supreme Court against it.

“We were expecting it as the government was acting in a biased manner from the very first day. We will move the Supreme Court against it,” Khilji’s brother Khalil Chauhan said.

“I am yet to see the report. I am unable to understand what to say. The Almighty will give justice to us,” Salman Khan, the brother of Amjad Khan, said.

The Opposition Congress said the report hardly surprised as the state government wanted to hush up the matter right from the beginning while the Leader of Opposition in state assembly Ajay Singh said it was trash.

“The government has been giving a clean chit to the police in every incident whether it was the Mandsaur police firing killing five farmers or those killed in the police encounter on October 31 (2016). We will raise the issue in the assembly,” Singh said.

Minister for jail Antar Singh Arya said the Opposition’s charges were baseless.

The judicial commission had done its job well and the government will look into its recommendations for strengthening security arrangements in jails, he said.

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