UP’s gangster and former MP Atiq Ahmed and his brother shot dead in presence of policemen

Three criminals shot dead UP's gangster-turned-MP Atiq Ahmed and his brother amid heavy police presence in Prayagraj, in front of TV cameras.

UP's gangster and former MP Atiq Ahmed and his brother shot dead in presence of policemen

Atiq Ahmed and his brother lying dead after they were shot

Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed (62) and his brother Khalid Azim alias Ashraf were shot dead by three assailants in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh, around 10.30pm on Saturday, April 15th, when the police took them for a medical check-up.

The incident took place hours after Ahmed’s son Asad was buried in Prayagraj’s Kasari Masari graveyard. Asad (19) and one of his accomplices were killed by the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Special Task Force in an alleged extra-judicial shootout near Jhansi on Thursday, April 13th.

The shocking live visuals of the shootout were captured by several Hindi television channels like AajTak and News18, and news agencies like ANI and PTI. The visuals show that Atiq Ahmed and Ashraf were handcuffed, and heavily armed policemen were escorting them to the Moti Lal Nehru Divisional Hospital (Colvin Hospital), where they were taken for a medical test after their interrogation at the Dhoomaganj Police Station.

Recordings of the incident show that while Atiq was talking to the press about Asad’s burial, one of the assailants appeared from the left side of the duo and shot him in his head from point-blank range. As soon as Atiq fell, the assailant and his accomplices shot Ashraf and continued firing multiple rounds at both.

Ironically, the heavily armed policemen were found scooting in panic when the shootout started, and they didn’t try to nab the assailants. However, after the shootout, tv visuals showed, the trio—identified as Lavlesh Tiwari, Sunny and Arun Mourya—were chanting “Jai Shri Ram” – a slogan generally used by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parental body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) affiliated organisations.

Tiwari, Sunny, and Mourya surrendered to the police and have been taken into custody. The police refused to divulge any information on their motive until they are interrogated. One of the policemen and a journalist were reportedly wounded in the incident.

The shootout in front of the policemen with sheer impunity stirred political turmoil in Uttar Pradesh as the Opposition questioned the law-and-order situation in the state. Atiq was a former member of the state’s legislative assembly (MLA) and a member of the Parliament (MP) from the Phulpur constituency (2004 to 2009) on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket.

Atiq is a convict in a kidnapping case and was serving his sentence in Sabarmati Jail in Gujarat. He was brought to Uttar Pradesh when his name came up as the principal accused in the murder of Umesh Pal, which took place in February. Atiq’s family members, including Asad, allegedly planned and killed Pal who was a witness in the 2006 murder case of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal.

SP supremo and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav criticised the BJP-led government and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the incident. Yadav accused the BJP government of destroying the rule of law in the state and endangering the lives of the people. Other Opposition members also questioned the claims of a “crime-free” Uttar Pradesh made by Yogi’s government.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav criticised the law & order situation in Uttar Pradesh.

In the meantime, to save his government from further ignominy, Yogi called for a high-level meeting at his residence on Saturday night. The BJP government has announced a judicial probe into the incident and suspended 17 policemen present at the location.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Proceedings (CrPC) has been imposed in all districts of the state and the internet services have been suspended in the region by the government. The police have issued a high-level alert for the entire state.

Earlier, several BJP officials and ministers celebrated the alleged extra-judicial killing of Asad and his accomplice on Thursday. After the news of Atiq and Ashraf’s killing flashed, several BJP leaders in the state and many who identify themselves as supporters of the right-wing Hindutva movement exhibited jubilation on social media.
BJP leader Swatantra Dev Singh tweeted that sins and pious deeds are calculated in the present ‘birth’.
A leader of the RSS’s student wing claimed that the ‘event’ will act as a detrimental force, without referring to the murder.
BJP leader and state minister Suresh Kumar Khanna called the murder a “decision of the nature”.
Self-styled Hindutva supporters praising the chief minister by calling him a “gangsta”.
A right-wing scribe equated the murder of the duo with the US’s claim that it had “killed” terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Since Yogi became the chief minister of the state in 2017, scores of ‘encounters’ have taken place in the state, in which suspects and accused of criminal cases were killed. Human rights organisations allege that the BJP government’s police stage such “encounters” to kill the accused.

Atiq had earlier pleaded to the Supreme Court in March saying that his life may be under threat in Uttar Pradesh. However, the apex court asked him to approach the Allahabad High Court and said that the state machinery will protect him.

A 2018 report by journalist Neha Dixit alleged in a report that most of the victims of the alleged extra-judicial killings are members of marginalised communities and social groups.

In several states, the BJP has portrayed the “Uttar Pradesh model” as an ideal one to deal with crimes, which implies giving the police an extra-judicial authority to kill accused and suspects at its sole discretion.

As several BJP supporters have hailed the assassination of Atiq and Ashraf in Prayagraj on social media, questions arise over the motive of the murder and the overall law-and-order situation in Uttar Pradesh, where criminals can kill anyone amid heavy police presence.

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