Bhopal Fake Encounter

After several incriminating videos of the so-called ‘encounter’ (a classic Indian euphemism for cold-blooded, execution-style murder by cops), now come some damning stills!

Surely, it is just a coincidence that the killer and the killed are wearing the same sports shoes, same make and colour. Not fishy at all, no?

But the big question is: Since jails don’t allow belts/shoes/watches, how/where did #SIMI men find these? While walking to the jungle? In the shoe closet at the three heavily-guarded gates they crossed? Or the shoe rack on top of the jail’s watch tower? Or did they first walk from the jail to the ATS squad office, raid their sports shoes supplies, then quietly marched to the jungle, huddled together atop a hill, waiting to be killed?

Let’s not even ask the other questions! Between the 8 of them, two allegedly had desi, crude pistols – how did they manage to get these? Or for that matter the knives? From some corrupt prison staff? Or found them lying on the road they walked on? Or through an accomplice, waiting for them outside? In which case, why was the accomplice stupid enough not to get an SUV or a van to drive them a couple of hundred miles away at night, maybe even take them outside the state and/or drop them to a railway station, for them to vanish on separate long-distance trains?

Police reports say the escapees fired 2 rounds at them while they fired 47 rounds. So, the escapees got 2 desi guns with only one bullet each? How stupid of them!

A video shows a cop ‘recovering’ a knife from an escapee’s waistband. A shiny broad-blade and 5-6 inches long. How did this escapee manage to walk with this knife tucked inside his (new) jeans, without slicing his groin or cutting open his thigh? Warning: don’t try this at home, but without walking, just try & tuck in a kitchen knife Into your waistband!

The jailbreak itself is the stuff of legend. Like Jai-Veeru in Sholay with the angrezon ke zamaaney ke jailer.

Let’s accept scene 1 of the MP cops’ screenplay. That the escapees attacked a warden. Then stole the keys from him to open other cells to free their friends. But they forgot to free their own leader Abu Faisal alias Doctor from a nearby cell? How clumsy and stupid, but let’s say they were in too much of a hurry!

But how did they manage from there? The staffer inside the cell doesn’t carry keys to the entire jail and all its entry/ main & intervening security gates, but only for his block. Any movie-goer knows that!

So, how did the escapees cross gate 1, 2 and 3? Did these gates have no security or armed guards? The cops’ screenplay suggests they had made keys from wood and metal spoons. When? That night itself? Or well in advance? Either way, the jail staff on duty and armed guards just looked on as these escapees stood around gate 1 for hours, filing and chiseling the spoon, fitting & trying it and finally making a duplicate key? And then, they repeated the process at gates 2 and 3?

The screenplay now suggests that they climbed (multiple sets of?) 30 foot high walls by making a “ladder out of bedsheets”. Imagine 1 man climbing the rope-knotted-bedsheets and reaching the top of the first wall. Then what – he jumps down thirty feet, landing perfectly on his brand-new sports shoes? Or climbs down another bedsheet-rope that he has carried to the top? Now it is the turn of escapees 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 to repeat this mountaineering feat.

No police or jail staff spots them during the long time it took them to do this? No one from the watch tower? No armed guards see them? And – no CCTV camera capture this remarkable Olympian achievement?

If this were a Bollywood movie, we would’ve walked out saying “kya bakwaas script hai”! Even Bollywood veterans like Ajay Devgn, Raveena Tandon, Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal would agree. But this screenplay carries on.

The escapees come out of the ISO-certified Bhopal Central jail. What do they do next? They go for a leisurely walk, covering less than 1.5 km/ hour for 7-8 hours. Not in any hurry. No sense of urgency to escape. And they decide to stick together, all 8 of them. Not split into 2 teams of 4 each or 4 teams of 2 each and go off in different directions, making their own capture difficult. DI’d they never watch TV or any films – and were they just too stupid to take these basic, elementary steps? In that case, they seem to be too foolish to be “dreaded terrorists” or any sort of “masterminds”!

The script now says that apart from 2 desi guns, the escapees get some knives – for what? Hand-to-hand combat with the heavily-armed ATS men? An IGP on camera suggests that his men have sustained injuries, but not from the only 2 bullets supposedly fired at them. So, knife injuries? How? Maybe once the escapees had been shot dead and the ATS chaps went nearer to check, the corpses’ hands twitched and jerked involuntarily but inflicted precise non life threatening injuries. Even in death, they were considerate enough to not slice open an artery or a vein – such kind-hearted terrorist?!

Triumphant IGP and valiant cops speak of the ‘encounter’ proudly on camera, telling us how bravely they tackled these men. Gushing TV anchors, wearing flack jackets and in combat mode themselves, inform us that 8 terrorists have been “neutralised” – never mind that these were undertrials, yet to be convicted for any offence, let alone for terrorism, by any court.

A Madhya Pradesh minister slips up and admits that the ‘terrorists’ had no gun, only some kitchen utensils they’d sharpened into makeshift knives. He blows apart the whole brave-cops-under-enemy-fire-reluctantly-retaliate-and kill, without sustaining any injuries themselves. The IGP also contradicts himself.

And then the worst happens – a video apparently shot by the local sarpanch shows us a plainclothes cop ‘recovering’ a knife-machete, another brave one aiming at a figure lying on the ground and firing in cold blood while off-screen voices shower some abuse and even acknowledge that someone is shooting it all on video.

And then comes a second video.
And a third video.
And a fourth video.
All of them are on YouTube for anyone to browse.

Showing us 5 men atop a hillock, no guns or weapons in sight. An independent eyewitness journalist writes to CM Chouhan – they had no way to escape – on the other side was a sheer drop of a couple of hundred feet. They were surrounded. Killed in cold blood.

Finally – Dear Madhya Pradesh Government, ATS & Police, you need to hire better scriptwriters; this is such a terrible story full of large, gaping holes! Learn from the #GujaratModel. 20-30 “encounters”, clearer plotlines & savvier ‘spin’ management! Despite that, they made history by having the largest number of IPS officers & cops arrested & jailed in independent India! And – never have your Home Minister ‘monitor’ the encounters directly – it may land him in jail too!

As a film-maker, let me tell you that cinema works on the basis of “willing suspension of disbelief”. But even in that context, your story, script, screenplay & dialogues are terrible! And people in real life don’t embrace disbelief readily, unless they’re your cadres or blind Bhakts.

The citizens will ask questions, challenge your narratives, criticize you, keep you in check as is mandated in the Indian Constitution under the chapter titled Fundamental Duties!

– Rakesh Sharma

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