Monitoring Desk: Just three days after the killing of his son in a police encounter, a Muslim former Indian lawmaker and his brother were killed on Sunday. The scene was caught live on TV in northern India.
A former lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh 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 close range in Prayagraj City in Uttar Pradesh state.
The men quickly surrendered to the 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 Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh is governed by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party since 2017. Since then, over 180 people facing criminal charges in India’s most populous state have been killed in so-called “police encounters” that rights groups say are often extrajudicial killings.
Police said that killers reached close to Atiq and his brother on the pretext of recording a byte and fired at them from close range. Multiple videos of the shooting went viral on social media. It was initially broadcast live on local TV channels as the brothers spoke to the media while being taken to the hospital. The footage shows someone pulling a gun close to Atiq Ahmad’s head. As he collapses, his brother is also shot. The video shows assailants repeatedly firing at the two men after both fell to the ground.
Atiq Ahmad who was known as a wanted man by the BJP due to his stiff stance on Hindus’s attacking Muslim families was jailed in 2019. On Thursday, Atiq Ahmad’s teenage son and another man were killed by police in what was described as a shootout.
Two weeks earlier, Atiq Ahmad had petitioned the Indian Supreme Court for protection, saying there was an “open, direct and immediate threat to his life” from state functionaries of Uttar Pradesh, according to media reports. But the court declined to intervene and instead asked his lawyer to approach the local state court. Atiq Ahmad was a state lawmaker four times and was also elected to India’s Parliament in 2004 from Uttar Pradesh’s Phulpur constituency, once represented by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.