Indian police officials gather at the entrance to The Central Jail in Bhopal on November 1, 2016, a day after some inmates allegedly escaped and were killed in an encounter with security personnel. Photograph:( AFP )
In what could be the most revealing piece of information in the Bhopal jailbreak case, audio clips accessed by WION, believed to be from Madhya Pradesh Police’s control room, suggest that the cops had no intention of arresting the now deceased men.
Eight suspected operatives from the banned Islamist student organisation, Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were shot dead on Monday after they had allegedly escaped Bhopal Central Jail. Several questions, however, have been raised over the manner and circumstances under which the suspects were gunned down in the capital city of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
A senior police officer can be heard on the radio ordering his subordinates engaged in action to kill all eight men, ‘Sabko nipta do.’ (Kill all of them).
It is imperative to mention that the order to allegedly kill the men comes before the police control room is informed that the men have fired upon the cops in action.
The audio clip not only contradicts claims of the state police that the alleged encounter lasted an hour, officials heard during the recording also seem to be resistant to the idea of calling ambulances to the encounter site. The argument for resisting calling ambulances is that authorities would have to spend money on the treatment of accused men in case anyone survives the shootout.
Towards the end of the clips, a superior police official can be heard giving orders to his subordinates, directing them not to allow anyone near the encounter site in case another "farzi (fake) operation needs to be done".
In another part of the same conversation, a male voice is heard saying that the cops should at least leave one of the escapees alive. Interestingly, in the clips, the officials are heard saying that the suspects were returning fire even though the state anti-terrorism unit and the government said the opposite.
WION is in possession of two clips which seem to have been recorded conversations made through wireless sets. One recording lasts 1 minute 24 seconds and the second one for 9 minutes 22 seconds.
The clips seem to have been recorded through a mobile phone by a person who is repeatedly heard using expletives for the men who were lodged in the Bhopal jail as undertrials suspected of being a part of banned SIMI and planning to carry terror attacks in the country.
Here are excerpts from the conversation as transcribed by WION:
The conversation starts with an individual laughing: "There are 5 targets. They are running together."
A voice responds saying: "Mike 12 and Sigma 113 go ahead, piche nahi hatna hai, jitni chargi hai unko bhi batao, surround them and make sure that you get them gherke pura kardo kaam tamam."
A voice, suspected to be that of a senior official, is heard saying not to fire as there was firing from the suspects' side. "One more party is coming, Chauhan sahab, Chauhan Sahab Chauhan Sahab yahaan se humari party aa rahi hai. They are firing, uska jawab diya jaye," says the person in the audio.
‘Sabko nipta do’ (Kill them all) a voice is heard ordering cops engaged in the shootout. A control room operator tells the police parties, ‘Mike 1, Saahab bol rahe hain nipta do (Sahab is saying to kill them all)."
The conversation here seems to suggest that the order to kill the eight men came from above. Later on, in the clip, a male voice is heard saying that the "work of such (senior) officials who do their work from police control room should be appreciated".
Also, further on, a voice in the conversation is heard saying, "We are on our way, we are coming surround them (gherabandi). We are coming towards you. Aaj hi game karna hai (We have to kill them today)."
Police officers can be heard saying that all the fugitives have been surrounded in a perimeter of 1 km of diameter by police parties.
Someone is heard responding, "Khel kardiya, ab ruk jao (The game is over, you can stop now)," followed by expletives. The conversation reveals that the SP will be also going to the shootout site.
Furthermore, the clips suggest that five of the eight men had been killed when they were spotted and the remaining three seem to have been running in a different direction but they too were shot dead.
Towards the end of the clip, a voice is heard congratulating his co-workers."Badhai ho (Congratulations). All of the eight are dead. DSP Crime has confirmed the deaths."
This similar to the response that was given by the officials after they were informed that all five suspects surrounded had been shot dead, where a voice was heard saying "Shabash, koi nahi...(Good work! Nevermind)"
(WION is yet to verify the audio clip and will update the developing story with official police response.)