The suspects were killed after they escaped from Bhopal Central Jail, killing a security guard, reported The Indian Express. The newspaper said that the encounter by the Madhya Pradesh police took place at the Eintkhedi village just hours after the prison break.
The police described the encounter as a raging gun battle, with the SIMI members instigating the gunfire. However, in a video obtained by CNN News18 (which was shot by the sarpanch of the Acharpura village), the police are seen shooting at a man, who was not retaliating, in close range.
CNN News18 reports that the only weapons that were recovered from SIMI members were knives. The encounter took place at 8 am on Monday and the Madhya Pradesh government went public with the same at 11 am. Police reactions were not available immediately.
The SIMI activists had escaped early on Monday by scaling the prison wall with the help of bed sheets. They had slit the throat of a head constable using a steel plate and glass and tied up another before they escaped from the B block of the jail.
The Bhopal Central Jail is known to be one of the safest prisons in Madhya Pradesh.
The eight SIMI activists were identified as Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid.
8 SIMI terrorists who fled from Bhopal Jail killed in an encounter: Police at the spot pic.twitter.com/V6ZuMLgF70
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 31, 2016
“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 told PTI.
Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhupendra Singh had said jail officials who were responsible for looking after the security had been suspended.
The home ministry sought a report from the Madhya Pradesh government about the jail break.
The ministry also asked the Madhya Pradesh government to send a detailed report about the jail break, whether there was any lapse on the part of the jail administration and the steps taken to check such incidents.
This was the second major jail break by SIMI operatives in three years. In 2013 seven members of the group had escaped from a jail in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. The central security agencies were particularly anxious as four of the seven SIMI activists who escaped 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.
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
SIMI was banned by the government in 2001.
(With PTI inputs)