Atiq brought to UP jail after 24-hour road trip

By, Prayagraj
Mar 28, 2023 12:12 AM IST

The convoy transporting Ahmad covered 1,275km by road in nearly 24 hours, crossing three states, and reached Naini central jail at 5.35pm

An Uttar Pradesh Police convoy brought gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad from Gujarat’s Sabarmati jail to Prayagraj in a largely uneventful journey on Monday, and lodged him in a high-security barrack while upping vigil and surveillance.

A van carrying Atiq Ahmed arrives at Naini Central jail in Prayagraj on Monday. (PTI)
A van carrying Atiq Ahmed arrives at Naini Central jail in Prayagraj on Monday. (PTI)

Ahmad, a former Samajwadi Party MP from Phulpur, is the prime accused in the sensational murder of Umesh Pal, who was the main witness in the 2005 killing of Bahujan Samaj Party lawmaker Raju Pal. On Tuesday, Ahmad will be produced before the Prayagraj MP/MLA court, which will pronounce its verdict in the 2006 case of Umesh Pal’s abduction — another case where Ahmad is the prime accused.

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The convoy transporting Ahmad covered 1,275km by road in nearly 24 hours, crossing three states, and reached Naini central jail at 5.35pm.

“Atiq has been kept in a high-security barrack located close to the women’s jail. Besides elaborate security arrangements at the barrack, the number of CCTV cameras has been increased,” said senior superintendent of Naini central jail, Shashikant Singh.

The convoy left Sabarmati jail, where Ahmad was lodged since 2019, at about 6pm, but met with an accident in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri at around 6.30am, when it hit a cow before entering Jhansi. The convoy stopped briefly even as the cow was taken to a local veterinary hospital, said police.

The police’s decision to bring Ahmad back by road had sparked a political controversy with opposition leaders, such as Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, hinting that Ahmad may face the same fate as gansgter Vikas Dubey, who was killed in an encounter in 2020 after his convoy allegedly overturned while bringing him back to Kanpur from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Under the law, there is no stipulation that police have to take the road route to transport a prisoner. In fact, when Ahmad was moved from Varanasi to Gujarat in 2019, he was taken by air.

Ahmad was escorted by a 45-member police team in six vehicles, including an ambulance and two fortified vans, and followed closely by media personnel. On the way, there were eight halts. Only five police officers were allowed to carry mobile phones during the journey. After beginning the journey from Sabarmati jail at 6pm, the convoy first halted at Udaipur at 9.20pm on Sunday, followed by Chittorgarh at 1am, Menal at 3am, and Kota at 4am. When Ahmad was alighting from the van at Shivpuri around 7am, reporters asked if he was scared and he retorted, “Kahe ka dar! (Fear of what!)” After entering Uttar Pradesh, the convoy halted at Jhansi at around 9.15am and Jalaun at 12.12pm. The eighth stop was Chitrakoot.

Ahmad will be produced before the Praygaraj MP/MLA court on Tuesday for the verdict in the 2006 Umesh Pal abduction case, in which he is the prime accused along with his brother Khalid Azeem aka Ashraf, a former legislator. Azeem was also brought by road from Bareilly jail and lodged in Naini jail on Monday.

Jail officials said joint teams of police and jail guards will be deployed. The security personnel will be on duty in three shifts and equipped with body cameras. Similar arrangements were made for Azeem.

Atiq Ahmad, his wife Shaista Parveen, his two sons, and brother Azeem were named as accused in the daylight murder of Umesh Pal and two of his police bodyguards on February 24. Umesh Pal was a prime witness in the 2005 murder of Raju Pal, a case in which Atiq and Azeem were the prime accused. An FIR was registered against 17 people for Umesh Pal’s murder on a complaint by his wife Jaya, police said.

Since Umesh Pal’s murder, police have gunned down two alleged aides of Ahmad, and the Prayagraj administration has demolished the houses of several others.

Ahmad was shifted to Sabarmati central jail due to a Supreme Court order after he was accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and assault of businessman Mohit Jaiswal while in prison in UP in 2018. Back then, police had taken Ahmad to Gujarat by air from Varanasi.

Officials said this will be the first time Ahmad, his son Ali, who had surrendered before the district court last year in an assault and extortion case, and Azeem will be in the same jail. They have been kept in high-security cells located in different parts of the jail to avoid any communication between them, officials added.

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