Opposition raises a stink over killing of SIMI activists, seeks probe (Roundup)
Bhopal/New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) A united opposition on Tuesday sought an impartial probe into the death of eight undertrial SIMI activists in an alleged shootout with police after a Bhopal jailbreak even as the government strongly defended the deaths of the “dreaded terrorists”.
Seeking a judicial probe into the police “encounter” deaths on Monday, the CPI-M, the BSP and the RJD raised doubts over the government’s version about the prison escape and the subsequent killings of the SIMI activists.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had earlier called for a probe, suspecting that the “encounter” may have been staged to kill the accused.
A Communist Party of India-Marxist statement said the eight men were undertrials whose guilt had not been established.
“How the accused could have escaped from a high security prison raises serious questions. The (Madhya Pradesh) government owes a full explanation how this occurred.”
The statement asked how was it possible for these men to secure arms after escaping from the prison “while being unable to get a vehicle to make good their escape”.
“All these raise serious doubts about the veracity of the police claims.”
RJD chief Lalu Prasad also demanded a high-level impartial probe to clear the suspense over whether it was a real or fake “encounter”.
BSP chief Mayawati said: “Prima facie the matter appears to be very suspicious and only a judicial probe can answer these doubts.”
She alleged that use of police force for furthering their political agenda was not new to BJP-ruled states and pointed out that attempts to hush up the Vyapam scam showed the Madhya Pradesh Police in poor light.
“There are many other incidents in MP which reflect the ideology of the BJP to use police to serve its political ends.”
Hitting out at the opposition for doing electoral politics, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said those killed were “of course dreaded terrorists who could have wreaked havoc had they succeeded in escaping”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said the opposition was doing “dirty politics” to secure minority vote banks.
“Patriotism is important,” he said, hailing “the sacrifice” of a policeman who was allegedly killed with a sharpened spoon by the accused while breaking out from the high-security Bhopal Central Jail.
In Delhi, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu slammed the Congress for being “concerned about terrorists”, calling it “all cheap politics” against the national interest of the country.
BJP leader Shrikant Sharma went a step ahead and said those killed were “supporters of Osama Bin Laden and working as sleeper cells”.
He said the Congress “has taken to communal politics” because it was unable to defeat the BJP over its development agenda.
The eight SIMI activists were killed on Monday on the Bhopal outskirts after police claimed they escaped from the prison by killing a police guard with a spoon and plates and forging keys out of “toothbrush and wood” to open the locks of their prison barracks.
The accused, police said, were armed when they were cornered and asked to surrender.