The Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), an organization banned 13 years ago, has presence in 21 out of 51 districts in Madhya Pradesh.
“It’s a matter of concern. They are (members of the proscribed students’ organization) anti-nationals and working in support of one religion,’’ said Home Minister Babulal Gaur and listed Bhopal, Indore, Khandwa, Ratlam, Burhanpur, Jabalpur and Ujjain among the 21 districts.
The former chief minister’s statement has come at a time when a nationwide hunt has been launched to nab five SIMI activists, charged with murdering ATS constables, planting bombs and inciting communal tension, escaped from Khandwa jail in October 2013. Since the escape, they have been accused of committing other terror acts and bank robberies.
Alarmed by the public assertion of the home minister, a top police officer, when reached for comments, paraphrased his boss saying, “a special watch has been kept in the districts that have reported SIMI activity at some point in the last 20-22 years. It does not mean they are active in all 21 districts at the moment.’’
The minister, however, made no such distinction. Gaur said 28 SIMI activists have been kept in the Bhopal central jail. The police are looking for only five SIMI members who fled after the jailbreak, the officer claimed.
After the Khandwa jailbreak, the police had requested the Madhya Pradesh high court to shift all trials involving SIMI members to Bhopal. After getting permission from the court, the police moved to Bhopal all the activists lodged in other jails.
In May this year, a dozen SIMI activists had threatened to target then Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi while raising pro-Taliban slogans when they were being taken away after a court appearance in Bhopal. Since then SIMI activists have appeared in video trials and are taken to the court only on orders from the presiding judge.