The questions raised over the brazen killings of a notorious gangster-politician and his brother in police custody two weeks ago in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj were questioned by the Supreme Court on Friday, which sought a report on the incident.
Ateeq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf were shot dead by three assailants on April 15, when they were being taken by the police to the hospital for a routine check-up. The assailants, posing as journalists, surrendered after shooting the brothers several times at close range.
The Supreme Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a report on the incident. The court also sought a report on the police encounter of Ahmed’s son Asad, who was killed by a special task force in Jhansi on April 13.
“How did they know? We have seen it on TV. Why were Ateeq Ahmed and his brother not taken to the hospital in an ambulance? Why were they paraded and paraded,” the court asked.
The government told the court that the brothers were being taken for court-mandated medical tests. “As per court orders, he had to be taken for medical examination every two days. So, the press knew. We have appointed a commission to look into the matter,” it said.
“This man (Atiq Ahmed) and his entire family have been involved in heinous cases for the last 30 years. This incident is particularly a gruesome one. We have caught the killers, and they said that they did this to gain prominence. Have done,” said senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the UP government.
“Everyone saw the killings on television. The killers came disguised as news photographers. They had passports, they had cameras, and identity cards that were later found to be fake. There were 50 people there and more outside. That’s how they managed to kill,” he said.
Ahmed, a former member of parliament, had a long criminal record that included charges of murder, kidnapping, extortion and rioting. He was also accused of conspiring to attack a businessman inside a jail in 2018. He was lodged in a high-security jail in Gujarat since 2019 and was brought to Prayagraj for a court hearing.
The case before the Supreme Court, filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari, alleged that the killings of Ahmed and his family members were part of a pattern of extrajudicial elimination of criminals.
Mr Tiwari has demanded a probe into the 183 encounters that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017, when the current government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath came to power.
Seeking a report on the killings in three weeks, the court said, “A comprehensive affidavit will be filed mentioning the steps taken to investigate the deaths that took place near Moti Lal Nehru Divisional Hospital in Prayagraj on April 15.” There will also be disclosure in the affidavit. Also disclose the steps taken in respect of the incident which took place immediately before the incident in question and the follow-up steps taken after the Justice BS Chauhan Commission’s report.”
Justice Chauhan, a former Supreme Court judge, headed a commission to investigate the encounter of gangster Vikas Dubey in 2020.