Washington: Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India's pluralist and tolerant ethos Friday demanded resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, over the "shocking and audacious" killing of 8 unarmed undertrials in Bhopal.
IAMC also joined activists, opposition parties and people of conscience in demanding a judicial probe into the gruesome incident.
Stating that videos of the killing show the men were unarmed, and were waving to the policemen in an apparent attempt to surrender, the IAMC said, "Demonstrating a shocking level of impunity, the chief of Madhya Pradesh's Anti-Terror Squad Sanjeev Shami confirmed the men were unarmed and defiantly maintained the killing was justified."
"The official account that these eight men escaped from a high-security jail by making keys out of toothbrushes and scaling walls 30 ft high using bedsheets defies logic. Added to these outrageous fabrications, is the idea that the "escaped" undertrials all stayed together after their escape until they were conveniently found in one place to be done to death by the police", the IAMC said in a statement.
"It also flies in the face of videos showing the men were unarmed, and the police fired even after the men were mowed down, including at a man who happened to be grievously injured but still alive. The motive behind this fake encounter appears to be the fact that the case against at least four of the undertrials was drawing to a close, with a judgement expected in their favor. This was articulated by Tahawwur Khan, one of the defence lawyers of the men killed in the encounter", the IAMC said.
"The killings fit a pattern of ongoing state repression of minorities, including fake encounters, abductions and denial of justice. The disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmad who went missing after an assault on the campus, is only the latest in a series of shocking incidents involving activists and whistleblowers. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has lost the moral legitimacy to continue in office, appears to be following the "Gujarat Model," in its pattern of framing innocent youth and engaging in extrajudicial killings", the organisation said.
"The cold-blooded execution of these eight men before the court pronounced its judgement on them, is a grim demonstration of the state-sponsored repression of minorities and Dalits in India, even by law enforcement that is sworn to protect all citizens, regardless of caste or creed," said Umar Malick, President of IAMC.
"A high-level judicial probe should be constituted immediately to unearth all the facts surrounding this incident. The justification of this gruesome killing by the ATS chief is an open admission of impunity, and the extent to which police forces consider themselves above the law. This does not bode well for the country," he added.
Among those condemning the staged encounter are opposition parties, and top media commentators such as Shekhar Gupta and academic organizations like the Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association. As Rahul Kanwal, Managing Editor of India Today said in his tweet, "Exposing a fake encounter is not anti-national. Staying silent when you know that an encounter appears fake is what is truly anti-national."
Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.