(WARNING: Graphic videos at the end of this piece).
Chilling footage, purportedly of the "encounter" of the eight operatives of the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), has raised questions about the police's version of events. In videos accessed by a few television channels, it appears that cops shot at a few people while they were lying on the ground in what appears to be an open field. Reports indicated that these were believed to be the SIMI members who were gunned down in an encounter on Monday. It is unclear from the video if they were, at the time, already dead or injured.
While Madhya Pradesh police claimed that the eight escaped prisoners had been killed after a "heavy exchange of fire", there are no guns next to the fallen men that can be seen in the video. A knife is seen being pulled out of a man's belt even as he lies in the ground.
Meanwhile, police dismissed criticism, and alleged that the escaped prisoners attacked the policemen.
"There was heavy firing from the other side (activists) and they were killed in retaliatory fire. Three policemen received injuries from sharp weapons. Police opened 45-46 rounds of fire," IG Yogesh Chaudhary said during a media briefing after questions were raised over the genuineness of the encounter, reported PTI.
This is at odds with the state home minister Bhupendra Singh's claim that the escaped prisoners did not have any weapons on them at the time of their escape and during the police encounter. "The SIMI members used jail utensils as weapons. (They) didn't have guns, but the police had no choice but to kill them," Singh told NDTV. However, he later clarified that he meant the SIMI operatives had used utensils inside the jail.
Watch the videos below.