Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed’s son Asad and his associate Ghulam, both wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, were killed in an encounter with the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UPSTF) in Jhansi on April 13.
Asad and Ghulam carried a reward of ₹5 lakh each and were killed in an encounter with a UPSTF team led by Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) Navendu and Vimal, said Special Director-General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar in Lucknow. “Sophisticated foreign-made weapons were recovered,” he added.
After the encounter, a report was submitted to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who lauded the efforts of the State police.
The development comes more than 45 days after the sensational murder of lawyer Umesh Pal, a witness in the 2005 murder of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal in Prayagraj. The lawyer, along with his two police guards, was shot dead outside his residence in Prayagraj. Former MP Atiq Ahmed, his brother Khalid Azim alias Ashraf, wife Shaista Parveen, Asad and 10 others were named as accused in the case.
Police said Asad and Ghulam, who have been absconding since the lawyer’s murder, opened fire at a police team around noon on Babina Road in Jhansi and were killed in “retaliatory action”. A total of 42 rounds were fired during the encounter and cellphones and SIM cards were recovered from the accused, police added.
Earlier, Mr. Ahmed and his brother Mr. Ashraf were produced at the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court in Prayagraj, in connection with the Umesh Pal murder case amid heavy security. The court sent the former MP and his brother to 14-day judicial custody. The former MP reportedly broke down in court and cried upon learning of his son’s death. Mr. Ahmed was brought to Prayagraj on Wednesday from Sabarmati Central Jail in Gujarat while Ashraf was brought from Bareilly Jail. Mr. Ahmed and his brother faced protests by lawyers in the court premises.
After the encounter, political temperature in U.P. heated up with the ruling BJP congratulating the State police and UPSTF for swift action while the Opposition called it “fake encounter”.
“I congratulate the UPSTF for this action, this is the fate of the killers of advocate Umesh Pal and police personnel!” wrote U.P. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya in a tweet in Hindi.
Samajwadi Party (SP) president and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Akhilesh Yadav alleged the BJP does not believe in courts and demanded a thorough investigation. “With false encounters, the BJP government is trying to divert attention from the real issues. The BJP does not believe in the court at all. Today’s and recent encounters should be thoroughly investigated and the culprits should not be spared. Those in power do not have the right to decide what is right or wrong. BJP is against brotherhood,” said Mr. Yadav.
BSP chief Mayawati also demanded a high-level inquiry. “The encounter has sparked numerous discussions. People feel their fears of a repeat of the Vikas Dubey incident have come true. A high-level inquiry is necessary so that the complete facts and truth of the incident can be brought before the public,” wrote the former four-time U.P. CM in a tweet in Hindi.
The family of Pal thanked the Uttar Pradesh government and Mr. Adityanath for delivering justice. “I thank Yogi Adityanathji for providing justice. It is a tribute to my son. We have full faith in the U.P. Police and the State government,” Shanti Devi, Pal’s mother told mediapersons in Prayagraj.
The murder of the lawyer on February 24 during the Budget Session of the State Assembly led to chaotic scenes in Vidhan Sabha with CM Adityanath declaring that the government would “destroy the criminals” (mafiaon ko mitti me mila denge). He had also alleged that the SP nurtured such elements during their regime.