Families of the eight Students of Islamic Movement of India men, who had escaped from Bhopal Central Jail after murdering a security guard on Monday, have demanded an investigation into the police encounter in which they were shot dead, PTI reported. Referring to the killings as "cold-blooded murders", the families will approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Families of seven of the eight men have arrived in Bhopal to collect their bodies for their last rites. Lawyer Parvez Alam said, "The families of the deceased have come to me and are weeping inconsolably for justice." Describing the encounter as "fake", Alam raised doubts over the police's claim that the SIMI men had scaled a "32-feet prison wall".
Deputy Inspector General Raman Singh said the militants had overpowered the guard and killed him with a "steel plate and glass", after which they used bed sheets to scale the prison walls. The SIMI members fled the prison between 2 am and 3 am on Monday. Soon after, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan replaced additional director-general of police Sushovan Benarjee with a former official of the Research and Analysis Wing, Sudhir Shahi.
The National Investigation Agency will look into how the undertrials were able to flee, while former director general of police Nandan Dubey will inquire into the security lapses on the part of the jail authorities.
Videos contradicting police claims that the SIMI men were shot dead after they opened fire at officers surfaced, raising doubts about the authenticity of the encounter. The alleged clips of the incident showed the SIMI men engaging in conversation with the police before the shooting, and another video showed them with raised arms before they were killed.
Meanwhile, Opposition parties have also questioned the encounter. Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of using the police to execute their communal plans, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanded a judicial investigation into the encounter. She said, "Eight prisoners related to SIMI were unarmed. They could have been arrested easily again but no attempts were made in this regard."
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said it was "curious" how only the SIMI men escaped prison and were killed. Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter, while Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal called for a Supreme Court-led investigation.
SIMI is an Islamist extremist organisation that was started in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in April 1977. It was banned by the government in 2006.