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India: Murky police encounter killing 8 escaped Muslim prisoners seems fake

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The Politics of Fake Encounters

There is an uproar in Indian on a new murky police encounter killing eight "escaped" Muslim prisoners in Bhopal. The incident has kicked up a raging controversy with the government and the opposition parties locked in a war of words over the issue. Raising doubts, Congress and left parties have sought a judicial probe into the incident.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told Asian News International (ANI), "I saw the photographs on television and they do bring suspicion. They make us think that was that encounter fake? Because it seems quite difficult to imagine that eight people at a time were killed by the police at the same place together. This matter should be investigated and the Supreme Court should assign this matter to a retired Supreme Court judge to probe the matter and clear all doubts."

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the repeated instance of prisoners escaping from jails across the country suggested a larger 'conspiracy'.

"Why do only Muslims break out of jail and not Hindus," said the congress leader. "It is a serious issue. First Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists fled the Khandwa jail. Now, they have fled from the Bhopal jail. I have been reiterating that RSS activists and other similar organizations are behind the anti-Muslim riots in the country. It should be probed whether there is someone behind this or not," he said earlier.

Accusing the Madhya Pradesh government of using the police for fulfilling the RSS agenda, Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati on Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the encounter between police and eight alleged SIMI activists.

She also alleged that there are communal motives behind the misuse of police in BJP-ruled states.

"Eight prisoners related to SIMI were unarmed. They could have been arrested easily again but no attempts were made in this regard. Prima facie this matter appears suspicious and justice demands judicial probe into the entire incident," she said in a statement.

"Its visible that police is misused for political and communal motives in BJP-ruled states. Police had saved many accused in the Vyapam scam. It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that the matter was handed over to CBI. MP government is using police for fulfilling RSS agenda," she charged.

A video has started surfacing on social media that further raises questions about today's encounter. In the video, four to five prisoners can be seen raising their hands while on radio cops said, "Yeh baat karnaa chaah rahey hain inko gher loo" (They want to talk, surround them).

Media report said no one yet knows what happened in between that the angry cops killed them rather arresting them. In another video, it is clearly seen a cop shooting the body while a policemen is displaying a brand new knife, wrapped in plastic, which he took out from one of the dead men.

Sahilonline reported that it has been ten hours now and the Bhopal police officials that were successful today in killing eight under-trial SIMI members, the cops are still not able to convince most of the media houses whether the encounter was real or "staged". As three videos have appeared one by one in last few hours raising doubts about today's killing.

Apart from media, Tahawwur Khan, defense lawyer of eight SIMI members, had also raised his doubt over the encounter and said that there is a conspiracy behind the killing. He reportedly said the trial of four SIMI members were about to end and there was no ample evidence against them, factually or legally. Khan further said that the court was about to give judgment in few weeks. Khan rubbished the claims of jailbreak and said, "Why they will do such things when they knew they were going to be acquitted?" Khan has also demanded a high-level inquiry into the encounter killing.

Javed Chauhan, the Khandwa-based former lawyer of some of the slain SIMI activists, said that the sequence of events, beginning within the jail premises and ending at Manikhedi Patthar about 15 kms from Bhopal city, indicate that the eight men "did not escape by scaling the very high walls of the prison but were taken out in a vehicle" after the warder collapsed and died because of the grievous injuries he sustained in a fight on the intervening night of 30 and 31 November.

Seven years later, 17 suspected SIMI activists acquitted last year

Seven years after 17 Muslim men, many of them medical students and engineers, were arrested by the Karnataka police on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy, for allegedly being associated with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a trial court in Hubli on April 30, 2015 acquitted all of them. Those acquitted were - Mohammad Asif, Raiazuddin Naseer, Asadulla Abubakar, Hafiz Hussein, Shakil Ahemad Mali, Allabhakha Yadwad, Mirza Ahemad Baig, Sabit Shibli, Yahya Kammakutti, Safdar Hussein Nagori, Sayyad Sadiq Sameer, Kamaruddin, Mohammad Yassin, Mohammad Ansar, Manroz Jaman, P A Shadooli and Akbar Ali Mulla. Sameer was already out on bail for the last four years.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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