A former member of India’s Parliament convicted of kidnapping has been shot dead on live TV along with his brother while in police custody in the northern city of Prayagraj, raising questions about rule of law in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The gunmen, who appeared to have posed as journalists, fired multiple shots at Atiq Ahmed and former state legislator Ashraf Ahmed on Saturday as they were being taken in handcuffs to hospital by police for a medical checkup, authorities said.
Three suspects 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.
The two victims were from India’s Muslim minority. Police did not say whether they were investigating a possible sectarian motive in the killings.
Police officer Ramit Sharma told The Associated Press news agency that the three assailants arrived on motorcycles and posed as journalists.
They managed to reach close to Atiq and his brother on the pretext of recording a byte and fired at them from close range,” he said. “Both sustained bullet injuries on the head.”
It all happened in seconds,” Sharma said.
Another police official, Prashant Kumar, told the Agence France-Presse news agency that the attackers are being questioned.
Failure of the police’
Atiq Ahmed last month had said in a petition to India’s top court that his life was under threat from the police in the state ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
His lawyer, Vijay Mishra, said the shooting was shocking because “it is a clear failure of the police in ensuring the safety” of his clients