Bhopal: A judicial probe into the jailbreak by eight Students Islamic Movement of India(SIMI) activists and their killing has been ordered by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, giving into the demand by opposition which has raised questions on claims by police about the Monday encounter.
The state government had earlier announced a probe by an Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising CID officers into the encounter and a separate investigation by former Director General of Police Nandan Dubey into the jailbreak but the Congress and other opposition parties had been pressing for a judicial probe.
An official release issued late on Thursday night here stated that the judicial probe will be conducted by retired High Court Judge Justice S. K. Pandey. "Justice Pandey will probe all aspects related to how SIMI activists escaped from the high security jail and the encounter that took place after that," it said.
State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on Friday said Pandey will also give his recommendations on improving security in prisons.
The BJP government led by Chouhan has vociferously defended the police action and accused the opposition of "politicising and communalising" the issue.
The party on Friday said that the judicial inquiry has been ordered as the state government has nothing to hide. "I don't think there was any inquiry necessary but since Shivraj Chouhan has nothing to hide, so he agreed to a judicial probe, which was their demand," BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said.
Meanwhile, Jail Minister Kusum Mehdele rejected allegations that there was lax security at the prison and that a large number of security personnel were posted with ministers.
A PIL was also filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday on the issue demanding judicial probe into the incident. The under-trial activists of the outlawed SIMI escaped from the central jail here on the intervening night of October 30-31 and were subsequently killed in an encounter on the outskirts of the city on October 31.
Before escaping from the jail, the SIMI activists also killed a head constable Ramashankar Yadav. Since the encounter took place, conflicting versions from police and state Home Minister surfaced, leading to allegations that it might be fake.
A controversy also raged over the police action following the daring pre-dawn jail-break, after TV channels showed footage purportedly from the encounter site in which a policeman is seen pumping bullets into a man from close range after some unidentified person takes out what appears to be a knife said to be in a plastic cover and places it back.