In a shocking twist to the Bhopal encounter case, chief of Madhya Pradesh’s anti-terror squad told NDTV that the 8 members of SIMI group who were killed after escaping from jail, were unarmed. Saying that it is legal for the Police to fire at dangerous criminals if they tried escaped, Sanjeev Shami added, “It is well settled in law when police can use force and take life. These men were dreaded criminals. If the police see the possibility that such men can escape, they can use maximum force.” There were reports earlier, of Shami saying that the men who were killed were unarmed. He said that he was aware that police and government had denied that fact, but he stood by his account.
However, contradictions had emerged over the official version of the encounter with a minute-long video doing the rounds showing police firing at what appeared to be bodies on the ground, amid shouts of ‘kill them’. It was unclear who shot the video but State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said he did not doubt its authenticity. In they video it is clearly seen that they men appeared unarmed, at a close range. They were in the village where the men were found following the Bhopal’s maximum-security Central Jail escape. Top human rights agency of India has asked for and explanation from the state police and government about the SIMI men encounter and whether they were shot in cold blood.
Shami told NDTV that even if accused criminals do not fire at the police, they can use maximum force. Shami’s anti-terror squad had led the encounter of the SIMI men. His statements vastly contradict what other police officers and Home Minister Bhupinder Singh had said. They had made allegations that, though the prisoners were unarmed during the escape, they were provided with arms once outside. They said that when the police had confronted them the men had with them, four country-made pistols.
Post mortem reports have reportedly suggested that the SIMI men were fired upon from the front and all of them sustained injuries in their head and chest, above the waist. Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had earlier slammed the ‘dirty politics’ being played over the SIMI encounter saying that the slain men were ‘dreaded terrorists’ who could have wreaked devastation.