The Madhya Pradesh government has decided against a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the jailbreak by 8 SIMI men and their death in an alleged encounter later with the police on Monday.
The government also put on hold any immediate monetary award to the villagers who informed the police about the fugitives and the police personnel involved in the encounter.
After a flip flop on an investigation by the NIA, the state government finally decided against it following a decision to order a judicial probe by retired High Court judge SK Pandey.
“The judge will inquire everything right from escape to encounter and also they will give recommendation on how to enhance security of the jail,” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told HT.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ‘changing stance’ on encounter worries Muslims
Earlier this week, Singh had said that NIA would investigate only the jail break and not the encounter. On Friday, a senior union home ministry official had said that the MP government had requested the ministry to let the NIA probe the jailbreak and the death of the SIMI men.
The minister also said that the government is yet to decide on when to give award to police personnel involved in the encounter and the villagers who informed the police about the SIMI men. This may mean that the villagers and the policemen may not get the award money immediately.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh welcomed the decision to hold a judicial inquiry but wanted it to be under the supervision of Madhya Pradesh high court.
Meanwhile, new CCTV footage, believed to be of a camera installed near the cells of the SIMI operatives emerged on Friday evening, showing the eight prisoners roaming freely in the B block during the day. Aired by a local television channel, the SIMI men in the CCTV footage could not be identified. HT had earlier reported that the SIMI cadres had VIP lifestyle in the jail, and used to move around freely during the day and even had set up a gym.
The CCTV footage came a day after an audio clip allegedly featuring conversations among police officials involved in the encounter had surfaced.
In the audio clip, whose authenticity is yet to be confirmed, an officer could be heard telling other policemen on walkie talkie to shoot the SIMI men raising suspicion over the authenticity of the encounter. The undertrial prisoners who were said to have jumped Bhopal central jail on Diwali night, were killed near Manikhedi on the outskirts of the state capital on Monday morning.
The series of video and audio clips circulated on social media after have raised suspicion over the police claim that SIMI men were killed by police in an exchange of fire.
Speaking to HT about the authenticity of the audio clip, inspector general of police (IGP) Bhopal, Yogesh Choudhary said that the whole incident is under investigation.
“It is a matter of investigation. The CID is already probing the incident, I cannot comment on that,” Choudhary said.
According to sources, the audio conversation involves a senior police official, the personnel at police control room (PCR) and the police officials present at the encounter site at Khijradev village under Parwalia police station.