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Bhopal Encounter: Video Raises Questions on MP Police Claim of Gun Battle With SIMI Operatives

A grab from the purported encounter video.

A grab from the purported encounter video.

Madhya Pradesh police’s encounter killing of the eight suspected SIMI activists who jumped prison on Sunday night has snowballed into a controversy with questions being raised on the veracity of police claims.

New Delhi/Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh police’s encounter killing of the eight suspected SIMI activists who jumped prison on Sunday night has snowballed into a controversy with questions being raised on the veracity of police claims.

ALSO READ: 8 SIMI Operatives, Who Fled Bhopal Central Jail, Killed in Encounter

Congress’s Digvijaya Singh and AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi have demanded an inquiry into the incident, while a mobile phone video purportedly taken by a villager at the encounter site showed policemen firing at the dead bodies of the SIMI men.

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The video accessed by a CNN-News18 correspondent showed the SIMI operatives lying on the ground almost bunched together with police personnel firing a shot to make sure all of them are dead. No guns were spotted near the dead terror suspects in the video, though a policeman is seen pulling out a knife from one of the bodies.

CNN-News18 cannot independent verify the authenticity of these videos. The faces are blurred to protect the identities of the police personnel involved in the operation.

The video surfaced hours after Bhopal IG Yogesh Choudhary claimed the encounter took place after the suspects opened fire at the police. From the conversation in the video it is clear that police were not alone at the alleged encounter site. There were voices, apparently of villagers, aiding the policemen.

ALSO READ: 10 Things to Know About Students Islamic Movement of India or SIMI

State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the encounter was a huge victory for the state’s forces. “I congratulate MP police,” he said, adding, “When an encounter happens, police have no other option but to fire.”

The eight terror suspects fled the high security Bhopal central jail and were shot dead on the outskirts of Bhopal near Acharpura village, according to Madhya Pradesh Police.

While Congress and CPI-M sought a judicial probe, the BJP questioned Congress for coming in support of SIMI terrorists and accused it of politicising the incident.

"I am demanding a judicial probe because even the government must know under what circumstances they escaped. People of the state and country must know how terrorists with with such a record were able to escape from such a high security jail and within hours caught and shot dead," Congress leader Kamal Nath, a Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, said.

CPI-M's Brinda Karat termed the official version of the incident as "highly dubious and suspicious". She said the versions of state government and police were "contradictory".

"Therefore, to get to the truth, it is essential to have an independent probe under a high court judge and should be time-bound because nobody can believe what seems to be a highly manufactured version," she said. Karat said those killed were undertrials and dubbing them as terrorists amounted to "subverting the law".

Coming out in defence of the police action, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao accused the Congress of batting for terrorists belonging to SIMI the way it had done for LeT in the past.

"I don't think why Congress wants to speak up for such individuals. Politicising the encounter is certainy not a done thing. But Congress party has done this for a long time.

"Looking at the way Congress is politicising the encounter, and that too concerning the particular group or organisation, is a matter of concern. Congress seems to raise concern only when LeT terrorists are killed and when SIMI activists who are convicted and involved in jailbreak. Congress party springing to their defence raises curiosity," he said.

(With PTI inputs)

first published:October 31, 2016, 17:43 IST