Panel gives clean chit to police, says encounter of 8 SIMI men reasonable
A panel looking into the encounter of 8 SIMI men in Bhopal has given a clean chit to police, citing ‘the use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and reasonable’
A week after the Mandsaur firing probe report gave a clean chit to the state police and CRPF personnel, the judicial probe committee looking into the Bhopal jail break and encounter of eight SIMI activists has given a clean chit to the city police, citing ‘the use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances.’
On October 31, 2016, eight SIMI members, who had escaped from Bhopal Central Jail in the intervening night between October 30 and October 31, 2016, were shot dead by the police in Manikhedi Kot Pathar village on the outskirts of Bhopal eight hours after their escaped by killing a guard.
“The encounter on October 31, 2016, done by the 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 adding that, “The use of force resulting in the death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances.”
Eight SIMI activists Mohd Saliq, Zakir Hussain, Amjad Khan, Mehboob Guddu, Mohd Aqeel Khilji, Mujeeb Sheikh, Mohammad Khalid Ahmad and Abdul Majid were gunned down by the city police eight hours after they escaped from ISO-certified Bhopal Central Jail by slitting throat of a guard name Ramashankar Yadav with a sharp edged weapon.
In the end, 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
Months after the incident, on June 6, 2017, the commission visited Bhopal Central Jail and Manikhedi Kot Pathar, the village on Bhopal’s outskirts where the encounter took place and compared the evidence. The commission said the undertrials SIMI men opened the cell lock using a key and scaled the outer jail wall using a ladder made of bed sheets and wooden pieces.
The judicial commission held that the low height of the jail walls allowed the undertrials to stage the escape easily and recommended the department to increase the height of the wall height.
In the end, almost as an afterthought, the commission, pulled up the 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.
“A departmental inquiry has been initiated against these persons. Similarly, departmental inquiry against special armed force personnel on duty will determine their fate,” it added.
Report further said, “The deceased persons were asked to surrender but instead of complying, they started firing at the police and public. So, it became necessary for the police to open fire on persons who had escaped from lawful custody. Even after the police opened fire they showed no intention to surrender and as a result, sustained injuries and died on the spot,’’ the judge said quoting depositions on the affidavit.
Family members of SIMI members who were killed said the probe report was biased and they would move the High Court or Supreme Court against it.
“The report is no shocking for us, the government was acting in a biased manner since inception. We will move the Supreme Court against it,” Khilji’s brother Khalil Chauhan claimed. While brother of Amajad Khan, Salman Khan said, “I am yet to see the report. I am unable to understand what to say. The Almighty will give justice to us.”
The Opposition Congress said the report hardly surprised as the state government wanted to hush up the matter right from the beginning just like the Mandsaur incident 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.
Moreover, the information of why CCTV cameras of the ISO-certified Bhopal Central Jail were turned off on the day of incident in also not elaborated. In addition to that, after the escape, who has supplied fresh cloths, foods and weapons to SIMI men to defend themselves?
Questions remain unanswered
The probe report tabled on the first day of the Assembly on Monday is yet to be public but according to sources, it includes the statement of the only eye-witness of the incident, Chandan Kumar Tilanthe, a guard, who was tied up by the SIMI men when he tried to obstruct their escape. But, it is not mentioned how he tried to obstruct and what he was doing there.
Moreover, the information of why CCTV cameras of the ISO-certified Bhopal Central Jail were turned off on the day of incident has also not been mentioned. In addition to that, after the escape, the report is unclear as to who had supplied fresh clothes, food and weapons to SIMI men to defend themselves?
Charges against SIMI men who were killed
All eight SIMI men – Mohd Saliq, Zakir Hussain, Amjad Khan, Mehboob Guddu, Mohd Aqeel Khilji, Mujeeb Sheikh, Mohammad Khalid Ahmad and Abdul Majid who were killed facing different cases.
Of the eight men, five from Khandwa district—Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu—were charged with attempt to murder (307) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), while Mohammad Salik was only accused under UAPA.
Mujeeb Shaikh, of Ahmadabad, was accused in several bomb blast and robbery cases, he was also accused under UAPA. Majid Nagore from Ujjain was accused under UAPA and was allegedly an explosive expert.
After the encounter of all eight SIMI men, the advocate Pravez Alam, who were fighting their cases requested to the court not to close their cases but to continue the hearing, till the verdict, so, the truth can come to public.
“Mujeeb Shaikh was accused under some major cases of bomb blast and bank robbery. But, other than Mujeeb, we were in more strong position because opposition don’t have any evidences against other six men,” said advocate Pravez Alam.
“I was not defending the case of Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, but he was also accused in connection with SIMI,” he added.
Opposition mostly presents similar photo-copies of certain documents in all the cases to press charges of the accused's association with SIMI. This is the kind of evidence they use and it doesn't stand trial.
- Zakir Hussain
- Ajay Singh
- Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
- Bhopal Central Jail
- SIMI activists
- Jail break
- Manikhedi Kot Pathar
- Mohd Saliq
- Amjad Khan
- Mehboob Guddu
- Mohd Aqeel Khilji
- Mujeeb Sheikh
- Mohammad Khalid Ahmad
- Abdul Majid
- Ramashankar Yadav
- Khalil Chauhan
- Chandan Kumar Tilanthe
- Mohammad Salik
- Pravez Alam