After ordering a judicial probe into the Bhopal jailbreak and alleged encounter of eight SIMI activists, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has put on hold the cash rewards it had announced for the policemen who took part in the operation, throwing up questions about its veracity.
"After the announcement of judicial probe into the incident, the government cannot give cash rewards to anyone till the completion of the inquiry," a highly-placed official told PTI.
"The cash rewards were announced prior to the announcement of the judicial probe and therefore, it is logical that it can not be given till the inquiry gets over," the official said.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh each for policemen involved in the shootout, a day after the alleged encounter took place on October 31. However, the rights activists had demanded that the cash reward be withheld till the probe unearthed the details of the encounter.
"The government should at least wait till the completion of several inquiries it has instituted to probe the encounter to justify the reward," Abdul Jabbar, a social activist, had said.
"It (the reward) cannot be justified till the probe is complete and all questions raised on the issue are properly addressed," he said.
Transparency International's Ajay Dube also questioned the "rationale" of announcing the reward when the state is under the scanner over the veracity of the encounter.
"The government should have waited for the outcome of the judicial inquiry it has instituted into the encounter. Announcing (rewards
for policemen) before it amounts to giving them a clean chit and to influence those involved in it (the probe)," he said.
Eight activists of the banned outfit, SIMI, were killed in the encounter on the city outskirts hours after they killed a head constable and pulled off an audacious escape from the high-security central jail.