It all got here to an finish on April 15. Atiq Ahmed, the son of a tongawalla who entered the arena of crime as a teen and received notoriety via allegations of killings in large sunlight, fell to bullets along side his brother within the glare of tv cameras and within the presence of the police. The pictures had been fired past due at night time at the premises of Calvin Health facility in Prayagraj. Simply hours previous, the frame of Ahmed’s son Asad, who were killed via the police, was once buried in a graveyard within sight.
Escorted via armed policemen, Ahmed and Khalid Azim alias Ashraf were delivered to the health facility for a regimen clinical check-up when 3 shooters, posing as mediapersons, fired at them from shut vary at 10.35 p.m. As journalists posed inquiries to the gangster-turned-politicians, one assailant got rid of his turban and shot Ahmed within the head point-blank. Ahmed collapsed at the flooring along side his brother, who were handcuffed with him. The shooters fired 18 bullets at Ahmed and Ashraf, killing them at the spot, sooner than being overpowered via the police. The murders, which brought on worry a number of the citizens of a imaginable backlash from Ahmed’s supporters, happened in the similar house from the place he had introduced his political profession.
From Allahabad to Phulpur
Born on August 10, 1962, to a “hothead” tongawalla, Haji Feroz Ahmed, within the Kasari Masari house, Ahmed had now not but finished his matriculation when he were given into petty crime. Then he started committing critical crimes: the primary homicide case towards him was once registered on the Khuldabad police station in 1979. Round the similar time, he additionally took up municipal contract works. Sooner or later, he reportedly got here just about every other gangster from the Sabzi Mandi house, Shauq-e-Ilahi alias Chand Baba, who had created terror in Prayagraj, erstwhile Allahabad, via wearing out murders and the use of crude bombs to focus on his opponents or even the police.
Whilst in prison, Chand Baba become a corporator in 1989. He was once launched on conditional bail. Thereafter, the Uttar Pradesh Meeting elections had been introduced. Via then, Ahmed had made up his thoughts to record his nomination from the Allahabad West seat as an impartial candidate and, it’s mentioned, additionally controlled to get Chand Baba’s enhance. Alternatively, Chand Baba later made up our minds to contest the ballot as an impartial candidate too. This ended in a war of words. Even sooner than election effects had been declared, Chand Baba was once murdered at a dhaba in Raushan Bagh on November 6, 1989.
“It was once an influence battle between the 2 gangsters geared toward setting up supremacy of their group for political positive factors. Chand Baba’s homicide introduced Ahmed to the limelight, and there was once no having a look again for him. He gained the 1989 election as an impartial candidate,” mentioned journalist Anupam Mishra in Prayagraj. “Ahmed once more gained the polls from the similar constituency in 1991 and 1993 as an impartial candidate, after which in 1996 on a Samajwadi Celebration (SP) price tag and in 2002 on an Apna Dal price tag.”
Situated on the banks of the Ganga, Prayagraj has lengthy been a cultural, instructional and political hub. It homes the Allahabad Prime Courtroom and a as soon as top-notch college. It was once additionally the house base of the Nehru circle of relatives, and a base for the Congress birthday celebration throughout the liberty motion. In each corner and cranny of this town, which is a very powerful pilgrimage centre, are heritage structures that draw in 1000’s of holiday makers annually. Alternatively, during the last few many years, the town has steadily been hitting the headlines for the mistaken causes. “The post-Mandal Fee protests in 1990 noticed the emergence of regional events in northern India. All through the similar segment, there was once additionally politicisation of criminals of the likes of Atiq Ahmed, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” recalled Mishra.
As soon as he become a political candidate, Ahmed is thought to have discovered a profitable choice in land-grabbing for elevating finances. If landowners and belongings sellers didn’t comply, he would allegedly factor threats to them. Tales are legion. As an example, a Prayagraj resident, Surajkali, instructed the media that her circle of relatives’s 12.50 bigha land was once captured via gangsters about 30 years in the past. Her husband went lacking and has now not returned since. When she pursued the topic with the government, she was once threatened with dire penalties. In 2016, she and her son had been attacked.
In keeping with locals, Ahmed steadily moved round escorted via guards wearing attack rifles. “Businessmen had been fearful of him and his henchmen. For election bills, he would pressure them to pay up large quantities, as much as ₹5 lakh consistent with head,” claimed a store proprietor in Dhoomanganj.
During the last 4 many years, throughout which greater than 100 circumstances had been registered towards him, Ahmed was once arrested repeatedly. Lalji Shukla, a retired officer of the Indian Police Provider, mentioned that as a Superintendent of Police (SP) he had first arrested the gangster on August 9, 1996, in a homicide case. He once more arrested him on February 15, 2001, for an alleged function within the homicide of a person known as Ashfaq in 1994. “Within the Surajkali topic, I had despatched a staff that arrested him in July 2002. To be able to get me transferred from the put up of SP Town, he orchestrated a bomb assault on himself and alleged that I used to be concerned. It later grew to become out that except for Atiq Ahmed, his father and brother had been additionally concerned,” he recalled.
Shukla mentioned throughout his tenure, 50 homes connected to Ahmed had been connected underneath the Gangsters Act. “We had dismantled virtually his whole community. Alternatively, he were given a reprieve with the go back of the SP to energy in Uttar Pradesh in 2003,” he mentioned. In authentic information, Ahmed’s workforce, code-named Gang No.227, was once quickly proven as inactive. In numerous circumstances, witnesses had been intimidated, and complaints not on time on more than a few pretexts.
In 2003, Atiq Ahmed, who was once with the Apna Dal, rejoined the SP. The subsequent yr, he was once elected because the Lok Sabha Member from Phulpur, the constituency as soon as represented via India’s first Top Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. He then made up our minds to box his brother, Ashraf, from the vacated Allahabad West Meeting constituency within the October 2004 bypoll. Ashraf misplaced to Bahujan Samaj Celebration (BSP) candidate, Raju Friend.
The Raju Friend case
Within the afternoon of January 25, 2005, Raju Friend was once travelling in a automotive along side two others. His safety guards had been tailing them in every other automobile. All of sudden, 8 individuals, allegedly together with Ashraf, intercepted them and opened hearth indiscriminately. Raju Friend and his co-travellers sustained bullet accidents. The MLA’s supporters pulled him out of the automobile and had been taking him to a nursing house in an autorickshaw when the assailants once more fired at him from shut vary. The 3rd spherical of firing took place just about the nursing house and killed Raju Friend. His co-travellers additionally succumbed to their accidents.
Ashraf was once arrested within the case, and Ahmed surrendered sooner than a court docket and was once despatched to judicial custody. Within the byelection, the BSP fielded Raju Friend’s widow Pooja Friend, who had misplaced her husband simply days after their marriage. Ashraf once more contested on an SP price tag and gained this time. Alternatively, the homicide case remained alive with the top witness, Umesh Friend, refusing to retract his testimony. On February 28, 2006, Umesh was once kidnapped at gunpoint, and instructed to stay quiet.
Days after the BSP executive got here to energy in June 2007, Umesh Friend lodged a First Data Record towards Ahmed and others for his alleged abduction. Beneath force, the gangster surrendered in 2008 and may just protected bail simplest 4 years later.
All through the 2014 common elections, Ahmed contested from Shrawasti on an SP price tag and misplaced. It was once an early indication that his political profession was once at the wane. “Alternatively, for nearly 15 years, he exercised keep an eye on over the gadget and would make a decision key postings in Prayagraj. As soon as a number of judges recused themselves from listening to his bail software,” mentioned a senior police officer at the situation of anonymity.
The don was once again within the highlight in December 2016 when a video clip appearing him and his males assaulting a professor and the team of workers of Sam Higginbottom College of Agriculture, Generation and Sciences went viral on social media. The Allahabad Prime Courtroom took notice, and on February 10, 2017, summoned his felony information. He was once due to this fact arrested and despatched to jail. “After that, he may just by no means pop out of prison,” mentioned Shukla. In 2017, the Bharatiya Janata Celebration got here to energy within the State. Regardless of the regime trade, Ahmed persevered to function from at the back of bars. Whilst lodged in Deoria jail, he’s purported to have were given a Lucknow businessman, Mohit Jaiswal, kidnapped and crushed up in December 2018 for extortion.
Taking cognisance of a petition on this regard, the Ultimate Courtroom — which discovered that there have been 106 circumstances towards him, of which 26 had been pending in more than a few courts — in April 2019 directed that Ahmed be shifted to Sabarmati prison in Gujarat, and ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the investigation. The identical yr, regardless of being in prison, he contested as an impartial candidate towards Top Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, however secured simply 855 votes.
Within the intervening time, as a part of pro-active motion towards gangsters, the U.P. executive had clamped down on Ahmed’s community. Immoveable belongings price masses of crores had been seized or demolished. His area in Chakiya and an workplace had been razed. The police known 16 corporations floated for actual property and different initiatives, and illegally got land parcels retrieved. In line with the felony circumstances, the Enforcement Directorate additionally introduced investigations underneath the Prevention of Cash Laundering Act.
Even because the workout was once underneath method, issues took a dramatic flip when Umesh Friend and two safety guards had been killed via assailants outdoor his area in Prayagraj on February 24, 2023. The whole incident was once recorded on a closed-circuit tv digital camera. A number of the shooters was once Ahmed’s son Asad. The assailants fired a number of rounds and hurled bombs sooner than fleeing.
An in depth police crackdown adopted and the accused Arbaaz and Vijay Chaudhary had been killed in “encounters” on February 27 and March 6. Ahmed and Ashraf, who claimed that there was once a danger to their lives, had been introduced again from Sabarmati prison via street on March 27. The subsequent day, an ordeal court docket convicted Ahmed and two others within the Umesh Friend abduction case. Ahmed was once sentenced to lifestyles imprisonment. It was once his first conviction in any felony case.
Surveillance had already been fixed on Asad. He was once in the end traced to Jhansi the place, along side his affiliate Ghulam, he was once shot lifeless via the police on April 13. Within the court docket complicated, Ahmed broke into tears that day, pronouncing simplest he was once chargeable for what had took place. The police took him and Ashraf into five-day custody within the Umesh Friend homicide case. Ahmed had sought permission to wait his son’s ultimate rites on April 15, however his plea was once rejected. Hours later, he and his brother had been gunned down via Arun Maurya (18), Lavlesh (22) and Sunny Singh (23).
An uneasy calm
Within the night of April 16, the bullet-ridden our bodies of Ahmed and Ashraf had been buried along Asad’s within the Kasari Masari graveyard. “There was once heavy police presence. We weren’t allowed to supply ultimate prayers. In the end, he was once our MP and his supporters will have to were approved access,” mentioned Asif, a resident of within sight Chakiya, Ahmed’s den the place an uneasy calm prevailed. Following Asad’s killing, masses of policemen and Speedy Motion Power body of workers had been deployed within the house as a precautionary measure.
A number of citizens raised questions in regards to the police’s function within the killings. “Atiq Bhai and his brother had been of their custody,” mentioned one resident at the situation of anonymity. “The police introduced them from Sabarmati prison underneath heavy safety preparations however failed to present them ok coverage in Prayagraj. Pictures of the incident displays that not one of the policemen escorting the 2 even tried to open hearth in retaliation. The 3 shooters come from deficient backgrounds, however they had been wearing expensive guns, which signifies a bigger conspiracy.”
Any other resident requested: “Now that the assailants were arrested and known, will the government demolish their houses?” A shopkeeper lamented that the new flip of occasions had adversely impacted companies throughout Ramzan. “The executive close down the Web, so no person was once ready to make any virtual transaction for 2 days. This yr, Eid celebrations will even get affected, inflicting large losses.”
Whilst the 3 shooters were taken into police custody for interrogation, the quest could also be on for Ahmed’s spouse Shaista Parween, a co-accused within the Umesh Friend homicide case. Their two minor sons are in a juvenile centre and their two different sons are in jail. Parween’s shut relations also are untraceable.