Gangster-politician Atiq Ahmad's son Asad and an accomplice, both wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, were shot dead in an exchange of fire with the Uttar Pradesh police near Jhansi on Thursday, officials said.
The alleged encounter took place apparently at the time Ahmad was in a Prayagraj court, where he was presented before the chief judicial magistrate in connection with the same murder and remanded to 14-day judicial custody.
The court also allowed a five-day remand for the UP police to question him
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have demanded an investigation into the Jhansi shootout, suggesting that the state's Special Task Force staged a fake encounter.
Two other men have been shot dead in separate encounters with police since February 24, when Umesh Pal, a key witness to a 2005 political murder, and two policemen deployed to protect him were killed by gunmen in Prayagraj.
Atiq Ahmad, a former SP legislator, had earlier expressed apprehension that he himself could be killed by UP police while being brought to Prayagraj from the Ahmedabad prison, where he was lodged in connection with another case.
When he was being taken to the city for Thursday's court appearance, he made a similar remark.
“I am totally reduced to dust, but please don't trouble the women and children of my family now," the 60-year-old told reporters from inside a police van.
His son Asad Ahmad was caught on CCTV when Umesh Pal was killed and had been on the run for the past 50 days, police said.
In an apparent reference to Atiq Ahmad, special director general (law and order) Prashant Kumar said there were intelligence inputs that the convoy bringing the accused might be attacked to free him.
On Thursday, police said an STF team led by two deputy superintendents of police reached Badagaon area in Jhansi district after getting information about the gangsters.
Asad and Ghulam, who carried a reward of Rs 5 lakh each, had tried to flee on a motorcycle, police said. They opened fire at the STF team when it surrounded them and the policemen retaliated, according to Kumar.
The officer said a British Bulldog revolver and a Walther pistol were recovered.
He said Chief Minister Adityanath congratulated the police personnel involved in the action.
The encounter took place on a day Ahmad was presented before the court of chief judicial magistrate in Prayagraj in the murder case and was sent to 14-day judicial custody.
Visuals showed two bodies lying beside a motorbike at the site of the alleged encounter. An ambulance later took them away.
STF officials said Asad and Ghulam were on the run since the murder of Umesh Pal on February 24. Several STF teams were pressed to track them down.
On Thursday, they were trying to flee on a motorcycle when they were intercepted by an STF team in Jhansi, the officials said, adding they opened fire on the personnel and were killed in retaliatory firing.
Umesh Pal, a key witness in the 2005 murder case of then Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Raju Pal, and his two police security guards were shot dead outside his home in Prayagraj's Dhoomanganj area on February 24 this year.
His wife Jaya Pal had filed a case on February 25 against Atiq Ahmad, his brother Ashraf, Asad, Ghulam and others.
Reacting on the news of encounter, Umesh Pal's family thanked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the police administration.
"Whatever they have done is right. He (the CM) has punished the killer of his daughter's husband. I express my gratitude. He is like a father. Justice has been done," Jaya told the media, adding she hoped strict action would be taken against other accused.
When asked against who else she wanted action, she said, "I leave that to the government. The government is giving me justice."
Umesh Pal's mother said, "The two gunners who were killed in broad daylight today had committed a sin. They have been punished today. We have faith, we will get complete justice."
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya congratulated the Uttar Pradesh Police and the STF for the action.
"Nobody will touch you if you don't commit a crime. And nobody will be spared if they Commit a crime," he told PTI.
He said this was a BJP government and not an SP government that criminals would be spared.
The FIR in the Umesh Pal murder cases was lodged under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Atiq Ahmad is also an accused in the 2005 Raju Pal murder case.