Five suspected terrorists being taken to court from jail, were killed in an encounter with the police near Alair in Nalgonda district of Telangana on Tuesday. Among them is Vikaruddin Ahmed, accused of killing at least two police personnel, one in Hyderabad one in 2009, and another in Maninagar in Gujarat.
The police said the men, who were being taken from Warangal jail to a Hyderabad court 150 km away, were killed when one of them attempted to overpower the security personnel escorting them and snatch a weapon in a bid to escape. Whether he fired from the weapon is not yet clear.
All five were shot dead inside the police van that was transporting them. They were partially handcuffed and civil rights activists have questioned why the team of 17 security personnel accompanying them could not have brought them under control without shooting them dead.
An inquiry by an executive magistrate and judicial inquiry has been ordered into the encounter, following the latest directives of the Supreme Court in a case of PUCL Vs State of Maharashtra in 2014.
Telangana Director General of Police Anurag Sharma said the suspected terrorists were partially handcuffed as they had in the past attacked policemen. Vikaruddin Ahmed, the alleged founder a local terror outfit Tehreek-Ghalba-e-Islam (TGI), was arrested in 2010. The other four men were his associates.
Telangana is on alert and intensive combing operations are on in Nalgonda district after two suspected SIMI activists were shot dead there on Saturday in a gun battle with the police in which a constable was also killed. The two men were trying to escape the state after killing two security personnel last week, the police said.
The men killed on Saturday are suspected to have been part of a group of seven alleged SIMI operatives who escaped from a jail in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh in October 2013. One had died earlier and one had surrendered, and the police of five states are now trying to track down the three remaining fugitives.
They have allegedly been involved in several crimes since they escaped, including a train blast last year in Chennai, in which one woman was killed and 14 were injured.