The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered a judicial investigation into the alleged encounter of eight undertrials belonging to the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India group. Retired justice SK Pande will head the commission that will investigate how the SIMI members escaped prison and the encounter in which they were killed.
The National Investigation Agency has already been asked to look into how the men were able to break out of jail, while former director general of police Nandan Dubey will be lead an inquiry into the security lapses on the part of prison authorities.
Meanwhile, two audio tapes from the encounter site surfaced on Thursday, adding to the long list of questions raised about this incident.The clips hint at the fact that the order possibly came from top officials. A person is heard saying “Sabko nipta do... Sahab aanewale hain [Finish everyone... the boss is about to reach].” After a few seconds and some calculations, another person says, “Congratulations, all eight have been killed, DSP Crime has said.”
Both the tapes suggest there was no exchange of fire and, rather, that the operation was completed in a few minutes, reported India Today. The nine-minute clip ends with a round of applause. They celebrate the deaths and congratulate each other. According to The Indian Express, one person is also heard saying “Someone must be kept alive.” Superintendent of Police (CID) Anurag Sharma, who is heading the investigation, did not question the authenticity of the clips. “We will include everything in our investigation,” he told The Indian Express.
A few days ago, videos contradicting police claims that the SIMI men were killed in crossfire had surfaced, raising doubts about the authenticity of the encounter. Amateur mobile phone videos of the incident showed the SIMI members engaging in conversation with the police before the shooting, while one also showed them with raised arms before they were killed. Earlier, Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief Sanjeev Shami had said that the undertrials were unarmed when they were shot dead by men from his team.
The police have maintained that the eight SIMI members had escaped from Bhopal Central Jail on October 30 after murdering a security guard. They were intercepted on the outskirts of the city, and were eventually shot dead after they engaged the police in a gun battle.