SIMI encounter justified, but key questions unanswered

Bhopal: The one-member judicial commission headed by retired justice SK Pandey that conducted a judicial inquiry into October 2016 encounter of eight members of banned outfit SIMI has justified as ‘reasonable’ and ‘inevitable’ the use of force by police that resulted in the death of eight fugitives of Bhopal Central Jail.

However, the commission has left certain key questions unanswered. The commission didn’t specify as to how and from where firearms and sharp-edged weapons used by the fugitives were procured. Though, it has been mentioned in the final report of the commission that’ the articles seized from spot are described in the seizure memo recorded by the police filed with its written statement. These are firearms, knife, cartridges etc….”

In its final report that was also tabled before state assembly by General Administration Department minister Lal Singh Arya, the commission stated that the encounter on October 31, 2016 done by the police was reasonable under the prevailing circumstances. “The action of the police was in consonance of the provision of law under sections 41 and 46 (2)(3) of the CrPC,” said the report.

The report clarified that under Sec-41, the police could have arrested the fugitives without the order from the magistrate or a warrant. Under  Sec- 46(2), if such arrest was forcibly resisted or evaded, ‘police could have used all means necessary to affect the arrest.’

On  intervening night of October 30-31, the SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) members had escaped from jail by slitting throat of a jail Guard, Rama Shankar Yadav. They were later gunned down in ‘counter-firing’ by Bhopal police at Manikhedi Kot Pathar on October 31 morning.

Other observations

  • The height of the wall of Jail premises was less and it was easy to climb up using a ladder made by bed sheets and wooden piece. Therefore, wall’s height must be increased.
  • The Jail department has named 10 persons prima-facie responsible for the alleged incident and against these persons a departmental inquiry has been ordered. Similarly, a department inquiry shall be initiated against SAF personnel who were on duty.
  • The state government should appoint a committee “to examine the security measures to stop repetition of incidents of absconding/escaping of persons from jails”.
  • The Department of Jail should be made part of the Department of Home for better coordination.