Islamic forum raises questions over Bhopal encounter

An Islamic forum today raised questions over the recent encounter killing of eight SIMI activists hours after they fled from a jail in Bhopal and demanded that stern action be taken against those involved in the operation.

"Media reports and videos showing the Bhopal encounter make it appear extremely suspicious and raise some serious questions that need to be answered by the government and police," General Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Muhammad Salim Engineer, said at a press conference.

"According to the lawyer of the undertrials, the case against his clients was very weak and there was a distinct possibility that they would have been acquitted soon.

"The whole incident bears a deep resemblance to the Batla House encounter and custodial deaths of Khalid Mujahid, Qateel Siddiqui and Mohammed Waqas. Jamaat feels that it is incorrect to state that we must not question the authenticity of the encounter as it would lower the morale of the police force," he said.

The forum demanded a high-level judicial inquiry to find out "the real culprits of the encounter and award strict punishment to the guilty".

On the disappearance on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Najeeb Ahmed, Salim said Delhi Police has been "reluctant" to question those who assaulted the student and that the varsity administration has displayed "lackadaisical attitude in dealing with the issue".

The forum also condemned the decision of an inter-ministerial panel to take a leading Hindi channel off air for one day over its coverage of the anti-terror operation in Pathankot.

"This is a direct violation of the freedom of the press and is reminiscent of the dark days of the Emergency when there were arbitrary and punitive curbs on the media," Salim said.