Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Atiq Ahmed’s son killed in encounter by UP Police

Dreaded gangster Atiq Ahmed’s son Asad, wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, was gunned down by Uttar Pradesh police in an encounter in Jhansi today. His co-accused Ghulam was also shot dead.

Both Asad and Ghulam had a reward of ₹ 5 lakh on their heads. Asad Ahmed had been captured by a CCTV camera during the attack on Pal and was on the run since.

Ghulam opened fire at a team of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force around noon today and the two were killed in retaliatory action, police said. Sophisticated weapons, new cellphones and SIM cards have been recovered from them, they added. 

According to police sources, Asad Ahmed had fled to Lucknow after the killing of Umesh Pal. He later moved to Kanpur and then Meerut before reaching Delhi, it is learnt. He then decided to flee to Madhya Pradesh. He reached Jhansi and was on his way to the state border on a bike when police intercepted him. Asad was reportedly in disguise. Police sources said they had an informer in Atiq Ahmed’s gang who told them about Asad’s whereabouts.

Sharing details about the encounter, police said a team of 12 led by two DSP-rank officers carried out the operation. A total of 42 rounds were fired during the encounter at Babina road in Jhansi. 

The encounter killings took place on a day Atiq Ahmed was produced in court in the same murder case and sent to judicial custody for 14 days.

Umesh Pal, a lawyer, was a witness in the 2005 murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal. On February 24, he was shot dead in a daylight attack outside his home in Prayagraj. The security personnel guarding him were also killed. Shocking visuals of the attack prompted questions on Uttar Pradesh’s law and order situation and the government came under strong criticism by the Opposition.

Umesh Pal’s murder also put the spotlight back on Atiq Ahmed, a gangster-turned-politician with over 100 cases against him. A former Samajwadi Party MP, he was convicted last month in a kidnapping case and sentenced to life imprisonment. This case related to the kidnapping of Umesh Pal back in 2006 — 17 years before he was eventually murdered.

The encounter killings of Atiq Ahmed’s son and his associate come against the backdrop of the gangster’s repeated allegations that the Uttar Pradesh police plans to gun him down in a staged encounter.

In fact, the gangster told reporters yesterday that he was safe because of the media. “It’s because of you (media) that I am safe,” he told the press while being brought to Prayagraj for a court date.

The gangster was moved to a prison in Gujarat on the directions of the Supreme Court after he was accused of engineering the kidnapping of a real estate businessman while in jail. He has been in the Sabarmati central jail since June 2019.

Over the past couple of months, Atiq Ahmed has been repeatedly brought to Uttar Pradesh for court hearings. The high-profile nature of the case and the gangster’s apprehensions of a staged encounter has ensured extensive media coverage of the movements.

After today’s encounter, four people linked to Umesh Pal’s murder have been gunned down. Police are still looking for Guddu Muslim, who allegedly lobbed a bomb during the shooting, and another alleged shooter Sabir. Atiq Ahmed’s wife Shayista is also on the run. 

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