'Where was the armed police?'
'Did you see armed constables around him?'
'There was deep negligence by the UP police and this was a deep conspiracy.'
The killing of Uttar Pradesh gangster Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed on a live television broadcast has put a question mark on the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh.
Atiq had approached the Supreme Court last month and stated that his life was in danger in police custody, but the apex court put its faith in the UP police by telling Atiq that the state machinery would take care of him.
There were 17 policemen to protect Atiq and his brother on Saturday, April 15, 2023, night and yet the three killers shot Atiq and Ashraf at point blank range.
"If the UP government really wishes that justice happens, then they should lodge an FIR immediately, get police officials from outside UP to investigate the killings, which should be looked upon as custodial killings," Kavita Srivastava, national secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.
As a human rights activist, how do you see the killings of Atiq Ahmed and others in UP?
It is horrible what is happening in Uttar Pradesh. It is so completely brazen. We used to see these things happening in Bollywood films and now the same script is being played out in Uttar Pradesh.
Extensive acts of private actor violence are being televised by channels. So the live broadcast of the killings of two people who were made into monsters by a repeated narrative on the television channels was lapped up by the audience.
It showed the brazen way in which the UP state machinery -- the police in this case -- facilitated the killers by making room to them to reach the killers and not firing back a single shot.
There have been 183 police encounters in Uttar Pradesh since 2017, when Yogi Adityanath came to power.
The 183rd encounter was that of Asad, Atiq Ahmed's son. The killing of Atiq and his brother Ashraf has made that figure 185.
But Atiq and his brother Ashraf were not killed by the police.
They were killed by killers in the complete protection of the police.
So complete was the failure of due diligence that it appears to be a police complicit with the killers.
If you are taking an accused who has 100 serious cases, then the police should have given him more protection while taking him to hospital. Don't you wish to protect the person even more for your prosecution?
But the agenda is not to adhere to process if you are a Muslim. Instant punishment against the Muslim is becoming the norm.
Use of bulldozers to demolish houses or naming and shaming by putting up banners of people who protested in the anti-CAA protests or the staged killings/causing injuries in the name of encounters mostly target Muslims.
The UP police has to take responsibility for the killings of Atiq and Ashraf.
There are clear-cut Supreme Court guidelines which state that you cannot bring out prisoners in this manner. The Justice Sirpurkar commission, while investigating the killings of the accused in the Disha Reddy case, gave general recommendations including protection of accused in these circumstances.
What are the guidelines to bring prisoners to hospitals?
The police has to have everything in place. After all, the possibility of the attack on Atiq and Ashraf was real. The protection of the right to life of the criminal has to be there.
Why was the police car not taken up to the hospital doorstep?
Why were there not enough armed police?
Why were they taken in the night for a checkup?
Like in the Disha Reddy case, the accused were taken for site investigation in the middle of the night and killed.
Atiq Ahmed approached the Supreme Court that he feared he would be slain in an encounter.
The Supreme Court also has to take some responsibility for what happened in Atiq's case.
How did they just take it so coolly when he said he would be killed?
Atiq knew the police would not let him live.
The Supreme Court should have instructed the high court to monitor (his movements in police custody).
It seems Ashraf did have police protection from an Allahabad high court order of 21st March 2023, which said the police must protect his life.
There are so many questions that need to be answered in Atiq and Ashraf's killings.
Why was the police car not taken right till the doors of the hospital?
Why did the medical check-up for Atiq happen so late in the night?
Why was there limited security?
There were 17 policemen to protect Atiq and his brother. Were they not enough?
No, they were not because they were mostly unarmed constables.
Where was the armed police?
Did you see armed constables around him?
There was deep negligence by the UP police and this was a deep conspiracy.
One news channel said Atiq got himself killed.
It is absolutely rubbish. They are trying to set the State free of its culpability and probably sponsorship.
They are trying to do that kind of narrative to set the State free of any responsibility.
The Justice V S Sirpurkar Commission had said, 'Just as mob lynching is unacceptable, so is any idea of instant justice.'
This must prevail at any point of time in law.
Punishment to any accused has to be established by procedure of law.
Are governments not scared of courts anymore?
Because there is a consensus of people who have become full of bloodlust.
Why does society at large believe the courts take so long to decide that it is better that gangsters like Atiq Ahmed are shot dead?
If this happens, then India will become completely lawless. So, let us think of speeding up the justice system rather than taking the law into our own hands and asking for instant justice.
This is completely unacceptable. No way do we want India to be a trigger-happy country.
Have we reached a stage where police encounters are glorified?
It also depends on who is killed.
First, you malign a Muslim as a terrorist and anti-national.
If you are a tribal, then you malign that person as a Maoist or Naxalite. Like they did in the case of Bhima-Koregaon where they criminalised the accused and gave them a label.
Somewhere they make that accused dehumanised, make him a monster in the eyes of the public. And after that, they (the police) get public sympathy, and this is what they did to Atiq Ahmed.
He must be and was involved in killings, like that of Umesh Pal, but through the media they built a massive narrative against him. So the public starts seeing him as a horrible human being and they start believing his end needs to be just like what happened to him.
Instant justice, however, is not the way. The rule of law must prevail for every little violation.
Punishment for the crime should be through the established procedure of law.
In the Disha case the V S Sirpurkar Commission proved that the police had killed the accused.
Yogi wants to show his brand of Hindutva is more ruthless in satisfying the bloodlust of the people.
He is showing instant justice and he is trying to build up an aggressive saviour's image for all those who believe in Hindutva ideology.
But Hindu gangsters are also being killed.
If there is a Hindu gangster and a Muslim gangster, then the Muslim gangster has greater chances of getting killed in a police encounter.
And now, in the case of Atiq Ahmed, we have seen outsourcing of police encounters.
In the name of the cow, they have justified mob lynching. It was never there in Hindu religion which is all about consensus.
Trigger-happy police and trigger-happy janata, socho haal kya hoga?
Is Atiq Ahmed's killing an example to other gangsters that you too will meet the same end?
Yogi has brutalised society. Take bulldozer (politics). They are naming and shaming people like they did in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests.
Madhya Pradesh too has started doing the same now.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chief architect of it and Yogi has mastered it in a more brutal way. It is getting worse and worse.
The UP government has suspended 17 policemen who were on duty.
So what? They have not accused them of being killers.
Just see the narrative now, they are trying to give a new spin that Atiq got himself killed.
If the UP government really wishes that justice happens, then they should lodge an FIR immediately, get police officials from outside UP to investigate the killings, which should be looked upon as custodial killings.
The Supreme Court should intervene and monitor the probe and ensure that the evidence in not tampered with.
Why only suspend constables? What about the officials who allowed a middle of the night medical examination?