Ahead of the jailbreak by 8 SIMI inmates from the Bhopal Central Jail, the Madhya Pradesh government had been warned in 2014 by a retired jail official about the “vulnerable points, illogical security arrangements and deplorable condition of staff” of the premises.
On Monday, eight activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) fled from the Bhopal jail, killing the head constable on duty. However, all of them were later killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Bhopal. Former Madhya Pradesh IG (Prisons), G K Agarwal, in a conversation with The Indian Express, said that he had written the letter to the then state chief secretary, Anthony Desa, on June 26, 2014 about the possible security loopholes and marked copies to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the Intelligence Bureau.
In the letter, Agarwal wrote, “At present, SIMI activists from other prisons have been kept in the Bhopal Central Jail. But given the structure of the jail building, its vulnerable points, illogical security arrangement and deplorable condition of staff, it would be wrong to presume that everything is OK if no major incident takes place. God is helping but it would a mistake to presume that he will continue to offer help.”
However, nothing came of the warning,says Agarwal, even though he had sent the letter after the jailbreak in Khandwa in late 2013 when six of the SIMI activist had escaped. According to Agarwal, the letter had been forwarded to the jail administration at that time. When The Indian Express contacted DG (Jail) Sanjay Chaudhary, he said that he was not aware of any such letter.
The retired officer alleged that the jail administration was hampered by staff shortage, which was compounded by the posting of several guards at the residences of senior prison officials. Earlier on October 3, then MP Jail Additional Director General (ADG) Sushovan Banerjee had also issued a written direction to Bhopal Central Jail Superintendent which said that, “security in Bhopal Jail should be tightened in letter and spirit in the wake of the disturbing developments in the country.”
The direction also said that a high alert has been sounded in the country (in wake of the Uri terror attack) and hence security should be beefed up in the local Central Jail. When contacted, Banerjee admitted that he had issued a written direction to the Bhopal Jail Superintendent. Now, Banerjee has been attached to the police headquarters after yesterday’s incident. Sudhir Sahi has been made the MP Jail Additional Director General.