SIMI Terrorists’ Jailbreak : Nation-wide alert sounded

New Delhi, Oct 31: A high alert has been sounded today following a jailbreak by eight SIMI activists in Bhopal, even as the Union home ministry sought a report from the Madhya Pradesh government.

Eight activists of the banned SIMI escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail on Monday by killing a security guard and scaling the prison wall with the help of bed sheets, following which some officials responsible for jail security have been suspended.

“Eight SIMI or Students Islamic Movement of India activists escaped at around 2-3 am by killing a jail security guard,” DIG Bhopal Raman Singh said.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said an alert has been sounded across the state, while jail officials concerned looking after the security have been suspended.

The state government has also announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh each on the heads of the activists.

They were identified as Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Khalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid, an official said.

After killing the guard the activists scaled the prison walls with the help of bed sheets, the DIG said.

This was the second major jailbreak by operatives of the banned SIMI in three years after the sensational escape by seven members of the group from a jail in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh in 2013.

Concerned over the incident, a nationwide alert has been sounded for the hunt of the eight SIMI men, who escaped from Bhopal jail after killing a jail security guard, official sources said.

All states neighbouring Madhya Pradesh have been specifically told to remain alert and keep a special vigil along their borders with Madhya Pradesh, sources said.

Central security officials were in regular touch with the state police officials and providing inputs to help nab the escapes.

The home ministry also asked the Madhya Pradesh government to send a detailed report about the jailbreak, whether there was any lapse on the part of the jail administration and the steps taken to check such incidents.

The central security agencies were particularly anxious as four of the seven SIMI activities, who escaped from a jail in Khandwa October 1, 2013, could be arrested only after three years and during the period of their hiding, the militants were involved in multiple incidents of terror and a bank robbery.

The seven SIMI men had made an audacious escape from the district jail in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh after scaling a 14-foot wall.

While one prisoner surrendered the next day and another was caught in December 2013 from Barwani in Madhya Pradesh. A third was killed in an encounter with Telangana Police on April 5, 2015, but the four continued to evade police for three years till their arrest in February 2016 in Rourkela in Odisha.

While in hiding, the SIMI men were allegedly involved in terror activities in several states including Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The group is suspected to be involved in a bank robbery in Karimnagar (Telangana) on February 1, 2014, a blast on a Bangalore-Guwahati train at the Chennai Central station that killed a young software engineer, on May 1, 2014, and the July 10, 2014, explosion near Faraskhana and Vishrambag police stations in Pune.

They were also allegedly involved in explosions in Roorkee in Uttarakhand and in Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.

SIMI was banned by the central government in 2001.