‘Cops murdered my son’: SIMI operative’s mother says encounter staged
Mother of one of the eight suspected operatives of the banned Students Islamic Federation of India (SIMI) said the police encounter in Acharapura village on Monday was “staged”.
Salma Bi, whose son Zakir Hussein was gunned down by the police nearly eight hours after he along with seven other SIMI suspects escaped from the high-security Bhopal central jail, said: “My son has been killed in a pre-planned encounter.”
“Neither did my son or his fellow jail inmates escape from the prison nor did they fire at the police before being gunned down in the so-called encounter in the Acharapura village.”
Hussein alias Vikki Don alias Vinay Kumar was among the seven men involved in the Khandwa jail break in October 2013. He was arrested from Rourkela in February and sent to Bhopal jail in March.
“When I met Zakir the last time at the Bhopal central jail on Eid-ul-Juha in September, he had told me that he was not safe and anything could be done to him, both inside the jail or outside the jail by the police,” Salma told HT from her home town in Khandwa.
“Zakir had asked me to meet him at short intervals for his safety, which I couldn’t do and the result is for all to see.”
The middle-aged woman, who came to know about the encounter from the television channels, accused the local police of assaulting her when they came to inquire about Zakir after he escaped and keeping the news of his death from her.
“Eight to 10 cops of the Khandwa district police came to our house after the alleged jail escape on Monday and asked me about my son and his friends. When I asked why they were troubling us again and again, one of the cops slapped me four times and even pushed away my visually challenged sister-in-law Rehana Bi,” she said.
She asked if it could be just a coincidence that the local cops had visited their house a fortnight ago and had asked them not to leave Khandwa at any cost.
Zakir, who is wanted in several bank robberies and loot cases, was the eldest of the four children of Salma and her Badru Hussain, who owns a construction material shop in Aman Nagar-Ganesh Talai locality in Khandwa.
Salma expressed fear that the police might also kill Zakir’s younger brother Altaf, lodged at the Bhopal central jail in other terror-related cases for last six years. “The cops have murdered one of my sons in pre-planned manner and might do the same with my second son,” she said.
Two video clips purportedly showing policemen shooting at the fugitives has raised doubts about the authenticity of the encounter. The police said on Monday the veracity of the clips that surfaced on news channels was yet to be ascertained.
“We acted on intelligence and located the inmates. They fired on us and all eight were killed in crossfire,” Yogesh Chaudhury, the Bhopal inspector general of police, told reporters, adding that three cops were injured in the encounter.
Inspector general of the anti-terror squad who led the operation, Sanjeev Shami, however, said the fugitives were unarmed and no cop was injured.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan described the lapses that led to the jailbreak as “criminal negligence” and said the incident will be probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The government also suspended five jail department officials.