Police suspected of killing unarmed Islamic terrorists

November 2, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bhopal, November 1, 2016: Police shot dead eight members of a banned Islamic group after they escaped from a jail in central India in a reported gun battle, but their lawyer and opposition parties allege the men were unarmed.

The men, all Muslims, were held in a jail in Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh state ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Police told media that the men escaped from Bhopal Central Prison early on Oct. 31 killing a constable and were later killed in a gun battle.

Within hours of the police version, television stations began to broadcast amateur videos showing the men standing in a hillock with their hands raised and police firing at them. The videos showed no sign of the escaped prisoners carrying guns, or shooting at the police.

Parvez Alam, the dead men’s lawyer, told ucanews that his clients were “murdered in cold-blood.”

They were arrested for bomb explosions, murdering police officers, sedition, and bank robberies in different parts of India. “But the trial was not moving ahead. If their cases dragged on, they might have got acquitted,” Alam said.

“The Catholic Church respects life and is against killing of anybody,” said Father Maria Stephen, public relations officer of Bhopal Archdiocese in the state capital.

“We will have to reform the jails in the state and also in the country in such a way that anyone who goes to jail will return as reformed good citizens, who love life and understand the dignity of life,” he told ucanews.

A journalist who reached the spot immediately after the police action told ucanews on conditions of anonymity that “there was no need to kill them as they could have been easily nabbed.”

Opposition political parties also question the police’s account. “I am demanding a judicial probe because even the government must know under what circumstances they escaped. People of the state and country must know how terrorists with such a record were able to escape from such a high security jail and within hours caught and shot dead,” said Kamal Nath, a Congress Party parliamentarian from the state.

BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao alleged that the Congress and others who question the police were undermining the morale of the security forces.

Mayawati, another opposition leader, in a Press Trust of India report appearing in The Indian Express newspaper said: “Its visible that police is misused for political and communal (sectarian) motives in BJP ruled states.”

Earlier, the BBC commenting on a seperate but similar incident said such occurrences were a response to India’s “grindingly slow and dysfunctional criminal justice system” and reflects a “culture in which some police officers assume that they can kill with impunity.”

– ucan

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