Five years after the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal, police have arrested one of the key accused in the case and recovered the weapon allegedly used in the killing.
On a tip-off, the special operations group of the local police arrested Gufran, a close aide and alleged sharp-shooter of mafia don-turned-MP Atiq Ahmed, from the Colonelganj police station area of the city late last night, police sources said on Monday.
A pistol, which Gufran claims to have used in the fatal attack on the BSP MLA on January 25, 2005, has also been recovered from one of his relatives' place in Jhusi locality in the district's trans-Yamuna region.
Pal was gunned down in broad daylight barely a couple of months after making his electoral debut from the Allahabad West assembly constituency in a by-election necessitated by Atiq Ahmed getting elected to the Lok Sabha from Phoolpur in the 2004 general elections.
He had defeated Ashraf, the younger brother of Ahmed who had represented the constituency five times in a row. The brothers, who owed allegiance to the then ruling Samajwadi Party, were named in the FIR lodged in this connection and also chargesheeted, but were granted bail by a court. After the BSP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2007, the state government ordered re-investigation of the murder case, even as a number of fresh cases were lodged against Atiq, Ashraf and their close aides.
While Ashraf is still absconding, Atiq was arrested in Delhi in January last year after having eluded the UP police for more than six months. He is currently lodged in the Naini central jail in Allahabad and facing trial in a number of criminal cases, including those under the Gangsters Act, besides threatening of witnesses in the BSP MLA murder case.
The Phoolpur MP, who defied the party line in the Presidential elections as also the trust vote for the UPA government at the Centre, has also been expelled from the Samajwadi Party.
He had subsequently expressed the desire to join the BSP, though the same has not been accepted by the party supremo and Chief Minister Mayawati.
After having lost to Raju Pal, Ashraf had wrested the seat back for the SP in the by-polls after the murder, defeating his young widow Puja despite a strong sympathy wave.
He, however, lost the seat to her in the assembly elections of 2007.