A former Indian politician and his brother were shot dead live on TV : NPR
Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
LUCKNOW, India — A former Indian lawmaker convicted of kidnapping and facing charges of murder and assault was killed along with his brother in a dramatic attack caught live on TV in northern India, officials said. official Sunday.
Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf were under police escort on their way to a medical checkup at a hospital on Saturday night when three men posing as journalists targeted the two brothers from nearby in the town of Prayagraj in the state of ‘ Uttar Pradesh.
The men quickly surrendered to police after the shooting, with at least one of them chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” or “Hail Lord Ram,” a slogan that has become a battle cry for Hindu nationalists in their campaign against the Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh is governed by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party.
Police officer Ramit Sharma said that the three attackers came on motorcycles posing as journalists.
“They managed to get close to Atiq and his brother under the pretext of recording a byte and shot at them from close range. Both sustained bullet wounds on the head,” he said. “Everything happened in seconds.”
Several videos of Saturday’s shooting have gone viral on social media. It was initially broadcast live on local TV stations as the brothers spoke to the media while being taken to hospital.
The video shows someone pulling a gun close to Atiq Ahmad’s head. As he collapses, his brother is also shot. The video shows attackers repeatedly shooting at the two men after they both fell to the ground.
Atiq Ahmad, aged 60, was jailed in 2019 after being found guilty of kidnapping a lawyer, Umesh Pal, who had testified against him as a witness in the murder of a lawmaker in 2005. In February, Pal was also killed.
On Thursday, Atiq Ahmad’s teenage son and another man, both of whom have been charged in Pal’s death, were killed by police in what was described as a shootout.
Two weeks earlier, Atiq Ahmad had asked the Indian Supreme Court for protection, saying there was an “open, direct and immediate threat to his life” from Uttar Pradesh state officials, according to media reports. But the court refused to intervene and instead asked his lawyer to approach the local state court.
Atiq Ahmad was a four-time state legislator and was also elected to the Parliament of India in 2004 from the Phulpur constituency of Uttar Pradesh, once represented by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
He faced more than 100 criminal cases and was among the first politicians from Uttar Pradesh to be prosecuted under the stringent Gangster Act in the late 1980s. He also cultivated an image of Robin Hood among most of the Muslim constituents and used to financially help many poor families.
But he was also criticized for using his political influence to develop a syndicate that was an active player in the property market amid allegations of forcible seizure of properties and other crimes.
Opposition parties criticized the killing as a lack of security.