<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The encounter of eight terror suspects belonging to the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) created a political storm on Monday following contradictory statements from the Madhya Pradesh government and the police.The controversy began when the police — eight hours after the accused had allegedly escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail on Monday morning — claimed that the men were gunned down in an encounter in Malikheda on the outskirts of the city.The police claimed that the accused escaped from the jail after killing a security guard, Ramashankar Yadav, by slitting his throat. They added that the alleged terror suspects were encircled and killed when they tried to challenge the cops.Contradictions soon emerged between the police and the state government versions. In a statement, Inspector-General of Police Yogesh Chaudhary said: “We located the eight inmates, they fired on us, and all of them were killed in the cross-firing.”But Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister Bhupendra Singh claimed that the men were unarmed. “The SIMI members used jail utensils as weapons. (They) didn’t have guns, but the police had no choice but to kill them,” said Singh in a television interview.Confusion further marred the day when a video was released on social media, in which a policeman is seen pumping bullets into a man from close range. In the same video, an unidentified person is seen taking out what appears to be a knife from the pocket of one of the deceased men, and places it back.Later in the day, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the jail-break would be probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). He added that the state government would conduct a separate probe.The undertrials were identified as Mohammad Aqeel Khilji (s/o Mohammad Yusuf), Mehboob Guddu (s/o Ismail of Khandwa) from MP, Mohammad Khalid Ahmad (s/o Mohammad Saleem of Sholapur) from Maharashtra, Mujeeb Sheikh (s/o Zamal Ahmad resident of Juhapura) from Ahmedabad, Amjad (s/o Ramzan Khan), Zakir Hussein Sheikh (s/o Badalul Hussein) and Abdul Majid (s/o Mohammad Yusuf of Ujjain) from MP.After the encounter, defence lawyers claimed that the accused had a good chance of acquittal as they had been cleared of several charges. Much of the evidence against the accused relied heavily on ‘literature’ that the police claimed was preaching violence. Lawyers contest this claim, saying they were Urdu literature and Quranic verses.According to Javaid Chauhan, who represented Mohammad Aqeel Khilji, two of the four charges against his client were cleared. According to Chauhan, Khilji’s son, Khalid, too was shot by MP’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in 2013. Khalid, according to Chauhan, was wanted by the ATS and was with another accused in the Aurangabad area of Maharashtra. “While Khalid was shot in the kneecap, his associate was shot dead. Khalid is in Nasik jail at the moment,” said Chauhan.Tahawur Pathan, lawyer for Khalid Ahmed, too, claimed that the encounter came at a time when Ahmed had a great chance of being released. “The cases against Khalid were weak. The police have repeatedly claimed that the undertrials were SIMI members and jihadi literature was found at the time of their arrest. But these claims against Khalid were unfounded as he had a good chance of securing acquittal. I can understand if some other accused made an attempt to escape but why those who knew they had a chance of getting acquitted,” Pathan said.A retired police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had a different take. “The jailbreak is surprising as SIMI suspects are under extra security cover. The accused would have to scale at least four walls to escape.”

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