In a shocking incident captured on live television on Saturday, former Indian parliament lawmaker Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed were shot dead during a police escort for a medical check-up. The two men, allegedly kingpins in a local criminal organization, were killed by assailants who had been posing as journalists.
The dramatic footage of the attack spread quickly across broadcast channels and social media. It showed a gunman reaching over police officers’ shoulders to point a pistol at the temple of Atiq Ahmed, whose turban was blown off as the gun fired. Ashraf Ahmed was also shot, and both victims died within minutes.
Warning : Graphic Content.
Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf shot dead while talking to media in persence of police.
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) April 15, 2023
Police swiftly detained three suspects involved in the slaying. One of the assailants surrendered immediately after the shooting, while officers subdued the other two. The suspects had been part of a crowd that had gathered as the two brothers were being escorted, handcuffed, from a hospital in Prayagraj city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening. Following the killings, the gunmen shouted Hindu religious chants.
One police officer was wounded during the attack. Fearing the possibility of violent unrest, the Uttar Pradesh government imposed a ban on gatherings of more than four people across the state.
A senior police official explained that the restrictive orders were imposed after the killings of Atiq and Ashraf Ahmed, who were part of a large criminal organization involved in land grabbing and murder cases. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, emphasized the need to prevent any form of protest from gaining momentum.
The state government, controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, has ordered a judicial probe into the killings. Just last week, Atiq Ahmed’s son was shot dead by police in Jhansi city in connection with a murder case being investigated as part of a wider crackdown on a land mafia operating in Uttar Pradesh.
Over the past six years, police in Uttar Pradesh have killed more than 180 suspected criminals during encounters. The leader of the opposition Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, argued that the slaying of the ex-party member while in police custody demonstrated the failure of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to maintain law and order in Uttar Pradesh. In a tweet, Yadav questioned the safety of the general public in light of the incident.