AMONG the eight alleged SIMI men killed by Madhya Pradesh police Monday, three had broken out of MP’s Khandwa jail in 2013 too. These three, and a fourth among those killed Monday, had gone on to be accused in a 2014 blast in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh. They were rearrested in February this year.
Mohammad Salik alias Sallu, accused in the Bijnor blast and among those killed Monday, was not part of the jailbreak. Seven men had escaped in 2013. Two were arrested soon after, and two more — who too were named accused in the Bijnor blast — were killed by police last year.
The blast took place on September 12, 2014, while a bomb was allegedly being assembled in one of two houses rented by the six men including Salik, according to UP’s Anti-Terrorism Squad.
Sheikh Mehboob alias Guddu alias Malik, 25, who was killed Monday, was injured in that blast. The other three from that group killed Monday were Amazad alias Pappu alias Daud. 25; Zakir Hussain alias Sadiq, 32; and Salik. All four were residents of Khandwa.
The other two blast accused, Mohammad Aslam alias Bilal, 26, and Mohammad Aizazuddin, 30, were killed in a police encounter in Telangana in April 2015. Guddu, Mehboob, Amazad and Salik were arrested from Odisha’s Rourkela in February this year.
The UP ATS initially investigated the Bijnor case before the NIA took over in April 2015. The NIA had wanted to question Guddu, Mehboob, Amazad and Salik in connection with the Bijnor blast. “We wanted to interrogate them for the sequence of events before filing the chargesheet,” an NIA officer said. “We had got a production warrant from a local court in Lucknow and submitted it in the MP jail where they were lodged.”
In the blast, Sheikh Mehboob suffered burns on his face and hands. Police say he was taken to a private clinic in Bijnor for treatment. CCTV footage from near the clinic, they said, showed the SIMI men carrying away the injured Sheikh.
The six men had rented two houses in Bijnor and the UP ATS had filed a chargesheet against five residents of Bijnor district, including a woman, for allegedly “providing shelter and logistic help” to them. Husna, her brother Nadeem who owned one of the rented house, Rahees, his son Abdulla and Furkan have been in jail since their arrest in October last year.
The police claimed to had recovered around Rs 9 lakh from their possession, reportedly was given to them by the alleged SIMI operatives.
According to the UP ATS’s chargesheet, the explosion took place in a house owned by Neelo Devi, 80, and rented to one of the SIMI men, Sheikh Mehboob. Nello Devi died a few months later.
During a search of the rooms, police claim to have recovered a large quantity of matchsticks, explosives, half-assembled bombs, a laptop, a .32 bore pistol and three voter-ID cards bearing Hindu names.
Communal violence, explosives cases
Among the eight alleged SIMI operatives killed, Akeel Khilji, 47, was a resident of Khandwa. The first case registered against him was in 2000 after SIMI was banned. In 2006 he was an accused in four cases of communal violence in 2006 in Khandwa. He was against accused in a case of Unlawful Prevention of Activities Act. He was once convicted and spent two years in jail. He was arrested from near Jaora in Ratlam in 2013 and was in jail since then..Aqueel’s cousin and Khandwa based advocate Javed Chouhan said families of Zakir and Aqueel have decided to move the high court to seek a probe in the encounter.
Majeed NAGORI is from Mahidpur town in Ujjain. He was booked for carrying explosives and under the Unlawful Prevention of Activities Act in 2013. After the case was filed, he fled but later surrendered in the court. His lawyer Parvez Alam questioned why someone who had surrendered would flee from jail.