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Former UP DGP recalls Atiq Ahmed’s ‘reign of terror’ — ‘massive minority support, political patronage’

New Delhi: “There will be firing if you try to arrest me,” — this is what former Uttar Pradesh deputy general of police (DGP) O.P. Singh recalls gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed as saying when he went to catch him in 1989. Singh had been the superintendent of police, Allahabad city, at the time.

“He had abused my officers and misbehaved with one sub inspector. He had also just won the elections as an independent candidate. When I confronted him with my skeletal force, he said that if we try to arrest him, he and his gang will fire. I told him that we can also fire back. However, during this verbal confrontation, high-ups (in the force and government and political parties) called the shots and asked me not to go ahead with his arrest,” Singh told ThePrint Sunday, a day after the former gangster was gunned down in Prayagraj. Despite being accused in 130-odd cases, Ahmed had been convicted for the first time only last month.

Singh added: “He enjoyed great political patronage. So we returned without arresting him. All police personnel have boundations that we can’t ignore.”

According to senior and retired UP Police officers, Ahmed started off as a scrap dealer and most of his initial crimes were limited to assaults and extortions in the railways. His gang, claimed Singh, ran along religious lines and he was looked upon as the “messiah” for Muslims.

“He was like the sole leader of Muslims at that time and enjoyed a massive minority vote bank. This is why political parties and leaders would just let him enjoy his reign of terror. This went on to the extent that witnesses would turn hostile and cases against him wouldn’t materialise. In fact, even when his involvement was alleged or suspected in multiple cases, his name just wouldn’t feature in FIRs,” Singh said.

His “reign of terror” reached new heights after he allegedly killed Chand Baba, another “dreaded gangster” accused in many crimes. Ahmed allegedly killed Chand Baba just a few days after becoming an MLA from Allahabad West in 1989.

Singh described Ahmed’s power as a “blatant mix of the deadly nexus between politics and mafia”. “He had the support of several past chief ministers as well. His gang members looked upon him as a Robin Hood-like figure,” added the former DGP.

Singh further alleged that Ahmed “masterminded more killings than cases against him. Because of the political support, he became a force to reckon with. No one wanted to go against him, such was his terror”.

According to the former DGP it was only in the last couple of years, with the setting up of fast track courts, that cases against him were reopened and some witnesses came and gave statements against Ahmed, after being granted protection.

But what finally led to his undoing, said Singh, was the 2005 murder of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Raju Pal and the killing this February of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Umesh Pal, for both of which Ahmed’s gang had been accused.

Also read: ‘Nahi le gaye toh nahi gaye’: Atiq Ahmed’s last words before being shot dead in Prayagraj

Ahmed and his gang

BJP leader Umesh Pal was one of the witnesses in the 2005 daylight murder of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal, who was allegedly gunned down by Atiq’s men on 25 January, 2005.

On 24 February this year, Pal was shot dead in broad daylight. The BJP leader had become an eyesore for Atiq’s gang as reported by ThePrint earlier.

While the police had booked Atiq, his brother Ashraf, Atiq’s wife Shaista, three of Atiq’s sons, Ghulam (identified as a shooter) and Guddu Muslim (identified as a bomber) among others, in the Pal murder case, they later identified five people as his shooters. This included one of Ahmed’s sons, Asad, and Ghulam, both of whom were shot dead by a team of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UP STF) last week.

Talking about one of the other accused in the case, Guddu Muslim alias Bambaz Guddu, allegedly a close aide of Ahmed’s, Rajesh Pandey, former inspector general  (IG) of police, Bareilly Range, said he had joined Ahmed sometime between 2004 and 2005.

“Guddu started off as a muscle man for Lucknow university student politics. He was also previously working with a Faizabad contractor, but after his [the contractor’s] death, he started working with Atiq,” said Pandey.

He added that Guddu came to be known as Bambaz owing to his expertise in making and hurling bombs.

“He is such an expert that he would carry the materials for [making] the bomb in his pocket, take them out, put them in a newspaper and run and hurl at the victim very confidently,” Pandey alleged.

Like Ahmed, Guddu too had been associated with several politicians, according to Pandey.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: ‘Murderer at 17, brutal mafioso’ with stint in Parliament: Atiq Ahmed, a story of crime & heartland politics

Source: The Print

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