On Saturday night, Atiq Ahmed, a former gangster who later became a politician, and his brother Ashraf Ahmed were fatally shot at close range while being escorted by police to a medical college in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh for a checkup. Despite police presence, three attackers fired multiple rounds, resulting in the deaths of both Atiq and Ashraf at the scene.
The Uttar Pradesh police reported that Atiq had accumulated over 100 First Information Reports (FIRs) related to different cases, and the recent addition to this list was the Umesh Pal Murder case. In the murder case of BSP MLA Raju Pal, who was assassinated shortly after winning the Allahabad (West) Assembly seat, Umesh Pa played a crucial role as the main witness.
Khalid Azim, the younger brother of former MP Atiq Ahmed, whom Raju Pal had defeated in the election, was his opponent. Umesh Pal, who resides in the area, was subjected to gunshots and crude bomb attacks outside his residence in February of this year.
Who is Atiq Ahmed
During the 1990s and 2000s, Atiq rose to prominence as a regional entrepreneur and established a criminal organisation known as Gang No. 227, which is said to have engaged in acts of extortion and illegal seizure of land. Starting as an independent candidate, he secured his first victory as an MLA from Allahabad West Assembly constituency in 1989, subsequently earning the distinction of winning five consecutive terms.
He contested twice as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party (SP), before eventually joining the Apna Dal and being appointed as its state president. In 2002, he resigned from his seat and ran as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 from Phulpur, representing the SP party. He won the election with a margin of 50,000 votes.
In the same year, his brother Khalid Azim contested in the Allahabad West by-poll, but lost to Raju Pal. Atiq surrendered in 2008 and was expelled from the SP following Raju Pal’s murder and Umesh Pal’s accusation against him and his associates. Umesh Pal claimed that he was abducted and coerced into making a court statement in their favour, leading to political pressure against Atiq.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, he ran as a candidate for the Shravasti constituency under the SP party, but lost by a margin of almost one lakh votes. Later, in the 2019 election, he contested as an independent candidate against the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in Varanasi constituency, but managed to receive only 855 votes in the Lok Sabha election.
Atiq, who was among the earliest gangsters in Uttar Pradesh, had his first murder case registered against him in 1979. By the time of his demise, he had accumulated 100 criminal cases. It is believed that he was the first individual in Uttar Pradesh to be charged under the ‘Gangster Act.’
On March 28, Atiq was convicted for the first time in the Umesh Pal Murder case and was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Uttar Pradesh. Atiq family members are also being sought in connection with the Umesh Pal murders case. Shahista, his wife, is currently evading authorities and carries a reward of Rs. 50,000. Ali Ahmed and Umar, two of Atiq’s sons, are incarcerated in Naini and Lucknow central jails respectively. Asad, another son, was killed in an encounter with the UP STF on 13 April. Atiq’s two younger sons are being held in a juvenile home located in Prayagraj.