Eight men allegedly linked with banned organisation Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were killed by police personnel after they escaped from the high security Bhopal Central Jail on Monday morning.
But after videos emerged of how the men were killed, there are now doubts over what exactly happened that morning and how it was allowed to take place.
Here are some of the major controversies:
The location of the accused
One of the biggest controversies has been the location where the convicts were killed, as seen in the videos of the incident.
Inspector general of police Yogesh Choudhary told Reuters that the police tracked the armed men down after local villagers reported suspicious movements, surrounded them outside the city and shot all eight dead.
But many, like CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, have questioned why the eight men, who had just fled a jail, had climbed to the top of a hill with a cliff if their aim was to escape.
Why were all 8 of them at the same spot, that too with a sharp cliff on the other side? Why did they not flee at the first hint of trouble?— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) November 1, 2016
Were the police really acting in self-defence?
Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the alleged SIMI activists had made weapons out of spoons and plates that they had carried from the prison and attacked the personnel with them.
However, the police said that they had been armed with guns and “fired on the police party first”.
“In retaliation police fired and all eight were dead. Four firearms and three knives were recovered,” inspector general of police Yogesh Choudhary said.
Some police officials have also claimed the eight men threw stones at police officials. However, since the videos that have been released don’t show the men shooting at the police, it has raised doubts about whether excessive force was used.
Also the policemen are seen firing at the accused even after they were shot multiple times which raises doubts over whether the policemen attempted to get any of them to a hospital in time.
The murder of the prison guard
Head constable Ramashankar Yadav was killed with a knife fashioned out of steel plates, which one of the inmates allegedly used to slit his throat.
Given that they had committed a murder, the escaped prisoners would be classified as dangerous and the police could justify using force if they faced any threat while trying to capture them. Two police personnel were also reportedly injured while trying to capture them again.
However, only the National Investigation Agency probe can reveal whether the police were entirely justified in using deadly force.
The outside help factor
None of the escaped inmates were in the attire they escaped the jail in. All of them were in fresh clothing and it remains unexplained where they got the new clothes and other alleged weapons like guns from.
And because the eight men are now dead, it remains unexplained why they stuck together and decided to walk despite a massive manhunt for them.
How was a high security jail breached so easily?
Three of the eight escaped prisoners killed by the police had broken out of another Madhya Pradesh jail before. The question remains how it happened again this time with a prison guard losing his life.
Amzad Ramzan Khan, Zakir Hussain and Sheikh Mehboob had escaped from the Khandwa district jail in 2013. There are remarkable similarities in the two cases:
- They used weapons made from kitchen utensils as weapons
- They used bedsheet ladders to scale the high perimeter walls of the jails
In this case, the inmates reportedly had the advantage of most jail staff being on leave but it still doesn’t explain how they opened the jail cells, assembled the ladder and managed to flee. Five officials have been suspended but only an internal probe will reveal how such a major jailbreak could take place.