Bhopal, Nov 5: The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to put on hold the cash rewards it had earlier announced for the police personnel who had participated in the alleged encounter killing of eight SIMI operatives.
Talking to PTI on Saturday, a highly-placed official said, "After the announcement of judicial probe into the incident, the government cannot give cash rewards to anyone till the completion of the inquiry."
"The cash rewards were announced prior to the announcement of the judicial probe and therefore, it is logical that it can't be given till the inquiry gets over," the official added.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh each for those policemen involved in the shootout. He had made the announcement on the occasion of the state's Foundation Day on November 1, a day after the alleged encounter of the SIMI men.
However, rights activists had demanded withholding the cash reward. "The government should at least wait till completion of several enquiries it has instituted to probe the encounter to justify the reward," Abdul Jabbar, a social activist associated with Bhopal gas leak tragedy victims, had said.
"Government is known for its credibility and if that is compromised then there is no point of having it (reward)," he said.
Jabbar said, on the one hand, the government has instituted several enquiries to probe the encounter and on the other it is rewarding those involved in it.
"It (the reward) can't be justified till the probe is complete and all questions raised on the issue are properly addressed," he said.
Transparency International's Ajay Dube had also questioned the "rationale" behind announcing the reward at a time when the state is under the scanner over the veracity of the encounter.
"The government should have waited for the outcome of the judicial enquiry it has instituted into the encounter.
Announcing (rewards for policemen) before it (conclusion of inquiry) amounts to giving them a clean chit and to influence those involved in it (the probe)," he said.
Eight operatives of the banned outfit were killed in an alleged encounter on the outskirts of the city hours after they killed a head constable and pulled off an audacious escape from the high-security central jail in the wee hours of October 31.