Opposition parties on Sunday lashed out at the Uttar Pradesh government over the murder of Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav saying that the state is in the grip of "jungle raj".
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the killing of the gangster-politician and his brother in police custody in Prayagraj raises serious questions over the style of functioning of the UP government, stating that it would be better if the Supreme Court takes cognisance of this "extremely serious and worrisome" incident.
In a press statement issued by the SP, Yadav said, "Uttar Pradesh is caught in the grip of 'jungle raj'. There is no rule of law and the Constitution here. Crime has reached its peak, killings are happening openly on the streets. Criminals are fearless and have got the protection of the ruling party."
"The systematic killing (of the duo) in the police security is the failure of the government. When someone in the police custody can be killed, then it can be guessed how safe the general public is," Yadav added.
The SP chief said the atmosphere of lawlessness created by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has caused fear among the people. "It seems that some people are deliberately creating such an atmosphere. The government's credibility is at its lowest," he said.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, BSP supremo Mayawati said, "Now, instead of 'rule of law by law' in Uttar Pradesh, how appropriate is it that it becomes 'encounter Pradesh'? Something to think about."
"The shooting dead of Atiq Ahmad, who was brought from a Gujarat jail, and his brother Ashraf, who was brought from Bareilly jail, last night in Prayagraj in police custody is just as heinous as the Umesh Pal murder case. It raises serious questions on the law and order of the UP government, and its style of functioning," she said.
SP chief Yadav also said that today there is concern about the security of 25 crore people of the state.
"In Uttar Pradesh, where once there was talk of development, metro, IT city, laptop during the regime of Samajwadi Party government, now there is talk of crime, criminals and pistols," he added.
Yadav said the BJP government will have to face (the outcome of) this in the coming times, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will not be able to escape from the responsibility of "thoko" (shoot down) mentality.
He alleged that after the BJP came to power in the state, murders are taking place in a planned manner under the "patronage" of the government, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav in a tweet in Hindi said, "Chief minister's order 'mitti mein milaa denge', Atiq Ahmad's petition in the Supreme Court demanding security owing to threat of death in custody -- No relief. Then fake encounters and planned murders in police custody were bound to happen. It would not be surprising if Atiq's other sons are also killed."
Atiq Ahmad (60) and his brother Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men posing as journalists in the middle of a media interaction on Saturday night while police personnel were escorting them to a medical college in Prayagraj for a checkup.
The brothers, both jailed in Prayagraj, were in handcuffs when they were killed in full view of camera crews around 10 pm. The horrifying visuals were circulated widely on social media platforms and television channels. The last rites of Ahmad's son Asad, who was gunned down in a police encounter in Jhansi on April 13, were performed just hours before the shooting.
- With PTI Input