Defending its action to open fire on the eight Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) terrorists who broke out of Bhopal Central Jail early this morning, the Madhya Pradesh Police asserted today that the escapees were neutralised in 'retaliatory' fire, adding that the suspects have been continuously perpetrating serious offences and also killed police constables in 2008 and 2011.
Addressing a press conference here, Bhopal Inspector General of Police Yogesh Choudhary stated all the eight SIMI terrorists were killed in cross-firing and had a track record of being involved in serious crimes before.
"We garnered all possible resources and launched search and patrol parties after we got intelligence that around 7-8 people were seen by locals. It was difficult to locate them as the unequal terrain was a disadvantage, but soon our team was fired upon when we challenged the suspects," he said.
Following the encounter, all eight suspects were found dead and weapons including knives and local-made pistols were also recovered from them.
Talking about the row over the unverified encounter video that has now become viral where the cops are seen opening fire on the escapees, the top cop said that they will have to look at the veracity of the video.
"It was a case of open environment and we will take all matters in consideration as the probe progresses. It is part of our investigation to figure out how they procured weapons after they escaped prison as 3 of our personnel were injured with sharp weapons," he added.
Choudhary further stated that it is a matter of investigation to ascertain if they received help from outside to escape.
Earlier today, asserting that he was massively relieved after the eight SIMI terrorists who broke out of Bhopal Central Jail early this morning were neutralised, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan stated that all those responsible for the escaping of the prisoners would not be spared.
Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister lauded the locals and the state police who pooled in efforts to bring down the terrorists.
"After the neutralisation of all the escaped SIMI terrorists the entire state is relieved and so am I, keeping the security in mind. The escaping of the SIMI terrorists is a serious issue and strict action will be taken against those responsible after a thorough probe," he said.
Chouhan further said that he had apprised Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh of the 'neutralised SIMI terrorists' and requested the central government for an investigation by the National Investigation Agency.
Meanwhile, urging the opposition not to politicise the encounter that ensued after eight SIMI terrorists broke out of Bhopal Central Jail early this morning, the Madhya Pradesh Government backed its police force saying they had no choice and added that this incident would be thoroughly probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Talking about the row over the unverified encounter video that has now become viral where the cops are seen opening fire on the escapees, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told ANI that the police did not have any choice at the moment and had to react immediately.
"Our Madhya Pradesh Police has achieved a great success by foiling a possible terror threat to the nation. When there is an encounter, the police have no other option but to open fire. Why is why this case has been handed over to the NIA so that a proper probe can be conducted," Singh said.
The Home Minister further asserted that the terrorists killed today had escaped from prison earlier too, adding that they were cold-blooded killers and could have murdered several innocent people.
Emphasising that national security must take priority over politics, he further that a major terror threat to the nation had been foiled.
Eight SIMI terrorists fled from Bhopal Central Jail after killing security guard Ramashankar Yadav.
Earlier today, the encounter took place under Gunga police station area, about 10 kilometres from the central jail. According to reports, the encounter took place with the help of local villagers, who first sighted them.
According to eyewitnesses, the terrorists' hurled stones on the villagers and police before being gunned down in the encounter.
IG Bhopal (Range) Yogesh Chaudhry said that these terrorist had weapons with them and they were killed in cross-firing.
Five officers of Central Bhopal Jail including the Jail Superintendent were suspended after the incident.
The Centre has sought a report from the Madhya Pradesh Government over the jail break incident.
The Home Ministry has asked details on the escape of eight SIMI activists from Bhopal central jail last night and has also asked for whether there was any lapse on the part of the jail administration and the steps taken to check such incidents.
However, Congress general secretary and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh has claimed that the repeated instance of prisoners escaping from jail across the country suggested a larger 'conspiracy'.
"It is a serious issue. First SIMI activists fled the Khandwa Jail. Now they have fled from Bhopal jail. I have been reiterating that RSS activists and other similar organisations are behind the anti-Muslim riots in the country. It should be probed whether there is someone behind this or not," Singh told reporters in the national capital.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)