Eight members of the banned Islamist fundamentalist group Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were killed in an encounter on Monday, hours after they escaped from Bhopal Central Jail. The convicts apparently escaped by scaling a wall and killing a prison guard. The jailbreak drew heavy criticism while the encounter brought praise from different quarters. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has demanded a probe into the matter. The eight fugitives were identified by the police as — Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohammad Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid.
SIMI has been active for nearly four decades now. The group is known to be responsible for some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Indian history. Here is all you need to know about SIMI:
Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisation which works to the agenda of liberating India by converting it into an Islamic country.
The organisation is run by fundamentalist and extremist students who aim to establish Dar-ul-Islam (Islamic land) in India by either converting people forcefully or with violence. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the group is proscribed as a terrorist organisation. The outfit has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks across the country in recent years and is spread across several states from north to south India operated by localised compact modules. The group has declared jihad on non-Islamic India as part of its doctrine.
SIMI was established April 25, 1977 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. The first founder president of the group was Professor Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi who taught Journalism and Public Relations at the Western Illinois University Macomb in Illinois, US.
The outfit came to the forefront as a student wing of the pre-Partition Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind). However, after ideological conflicts in 1981 over the visit of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, SIMI separated from JIH prompting the latter to form another students wing — Students Islamic Organisation (SIO).
The group wants to establish Islamic Rule in India based on Sharia law and doesn’t believe in the idea of Indian nation state or a secular democratic state structure. The group has exploited vulnerable youth over decades in propagating radical Islam and promoting their idea of “Islami Inquilab” (Islamic Revolution).
The group was outlawed by the Indian government in 2001 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). However, the act itself was repealed later by the UPA government. The group has a strong footprint in states like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
Dr Shahid Badar Falah served as the group’s president in 2001 and was arrested from the capital’s Zakir Nagar area a day after SIMI was outlawed. Safdar Nagori, SIMI secretary general, absconded and was arrested in 2008 from Indore. Nagori is also alleged to have links with Pakistan’s external intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which is known to aide extremists and terrorist actors in India. Nagori has been in jail since then and is serving time under charges of sedition and spreading communal disharmony.
SIMI is understood to be responsible for conducting bomb blasts inside commuter trains in Maharashtra’s capital Mumbai in 2006. The blasts killed 187 people and the outfit is being probed for a number of other attacks and bombings carried out in states likes Gujarat. One bombing incident in Gujarat understood to be conducted by SIMI claimed 45 lives in 2008.
SIMI aims to achieve the supremacy of Islamic rule in India, lays importance on ummah (the idea of Muslim Brotherhood) and reiterates its prime objective of creating the ‘Khilafat’. The group denounces concepts like nation-state, secularism, democracy and people’s law.