ATS chief contradicts Bhopal inspector general, says SIMI men were unarmed
The eight SIMI members gunned down by police in Madhya Pradesh were not armed, the state’s anti-terror squad chief reiterated on Wednesday, punching fresh holes in the government’s claims the radical Islamists were killed when they fired at security personnel.
The eight members of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were shot dead in controversial circumstances on Monday, hours after they allegedly killed a jail warder and fled from the high-security Bhopal central jail.
The assertion by ATS chief Sanjeev Shami, who was part of the operation against the SIMI members, will bolster allegations that police had staged the encounter on the outskirts of Bhopal.
Shami purportedly made the statement to a television channel, a day after Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhupendra Singh gave a clean chit to police saying “there was no need to probe” the encounter.
Later, the government asked the rime investigation department, part of the state police, to probe the jailbreak.
On Monday, Shami had said that the SIMI men were unarmed, contradicting Bhopal range inspector general Yogesh Choudhary’s claim that the police were forced to retaliate when fired at by the fugitives.
Shami had said none of the cops were injured in the encounter though Choudhary claimed three security personnel were hit by pellets.
The highly-publicised incident has put the BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan under pressure with rights activists and opposition political parties seeking an independent probe into the encounter.
Though Chouhan had initially said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will be asked to probe the incident, the state government is yet to seek the central body’s help.