Atiq Ahmed: Former Indian MP shot dead live on TV
Former Indian politician Atiq Ahmed was talking to reporters while under police escort on Saturday night when a gun was pulled close to his head in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.
A video showed Ahmed and his brother, former state legislator Ashraf, speaking to the media on their way for a medical check-up seconds before they were both shot dead live on TV. Three shooters, who had been posing as journalists, swiftly surrendered and were arrested.
A number of serious cases, including murder, kidnapping, and extortion, were registered against the former MP over the past 20 years. In connection to a kidnapping case, a local court had sentenced him and two others to life in prison just a month back.
It seems Ahmed had a prominent role in politics as well as the criminal world. He was first accused in a murder case in 1979. He soon emerged as a person who yielded strong power in the western part of Prayagraj.
He was a local lawmaker four times, winning his first election in 1989, and was even elected to India’s Parliament in 2004. Meanwhile, a number of cases continued to be filed against him in the city and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.
The 60-year-old reportedly faced over 100 legal cases.
Ahmed continued contesting elections in the next decade as well but lost all of them. He was imprisoned in 2019.
But the country’s top court ordered the same year that he should be moved to a prison in a different state after it emerged he had planned attacks on a businessman from a jail in Uttar Pradesh where he was being held awaiting trial in another case.
This year in March, he was brought back from Gujarat to Prayagraj to be questioned in relation to different cases. His brother Ashraf, who was in a prison in Bareilly at the time, was also brought back to the city for questioning.
The two faced intense questions concerning the February murder of Umesh Pal, a major witness in the shocking murder of Raju Pal in 2005. Raju Pal had defeated Ashraf in the 2004 assembly elections in Ahmed’s political stronghold.
In addition to a few others, Ahmed’s teenage son Asad was also named as the main suspect in the Umesh Pal murder case. In what was described as a shootout, Asad and another accomplice were killed by police earlier last week.
Following the shooting on Saturday, Akhilesh Yadav from the opposition Samajwadi Party took to Twitter to raise concerns over the safety of the general public, adding “Crime has reached its peak in UP and the morale of the criminals is high.”
Over the past six years, more than 180 people facing a number of different charges have been killed by police in Uttar Pradesh. While activists have accused the police of carrying out extra-judicial killings, the state government strongly denies the claims. The police usually call them “encounters”.