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The Madhya Pradesh government today extended by three months the tenure of a single-member judicial panel probing the last year's jailbreak by eight SIMI operatives and their subsequent gunning down by police. It is the third extension that the commission has been given and the new deadline for it to finish the probe is November 6 now. Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya said the decision was taken by a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. "The term of the single-member judicial commission probing the escape of SIMI operatives from Bhopal's central jail, has been further extended for a period of three months. The term of this commission was scheduled to end next month (on August 7).
Now, the commission's tenure has been extended till November 6," Malaiya said after the Cabinet meeting. On November 7 last year, the state government had appointed retired high court judge S K Pandey to probe the daring jailbreak by eight activists of the banned SIMI. Initially, this single-member commission had been asked to complete the probe within three months and submit its report to the government. Eight SIMI under-trials had pulled off an audacious escape from the high-security Central Jail of Bhopal on the intervening night of October 30-31 last year after killing a guard. The police, however, had gunned them down in an alleged encounter on the outskirts of Bhopal within hours after they escaped from the prison after attacking the guards. As per the notification issued by the Madhya Pradesh government on November 7, the commission was directed to probe the "circumstances in which the SIMI members escaped from the prison and the officials responsible for it." "How and under what circumstances the encounter took place at Manikheda village under Gunga Police Station limits on the outskirts of Bhopal, in which all eight prisoners were killed ... Whether the action taken by the police is justified under prevailing circumstances," the notification had said. The government had also asked the panel to recommend the steps to be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents (escape of prisoners) and any other suggestions it deemed appropriate. The alleged encounter was mired in controversy as doubts had been raised about its genuineness by opposition Congress and other parties after a video clip and audio tapes had surfaced doubting the authenticity of the police version of the incident.
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