Who Is Atiq Ahmed: Uttar Pradesh’s First 'Gangster'

The former don-turned-politician started his political journey in 1989 when he won the MLA seat from Allahabad West as an independent candidate.

Atiq Ahmed produced in court

Gangster mafia turned politician, 62-year-old Atiq Ahmed complained of deteriorating health and lack of sleep at the Prayagraj Jail on Thursday morning. Shortly after his examination, Atiq’s son Asad was killed in an encounter with the Uttar Pradesh Police.

Asad, also a wanted criminal had a bounty of Rs 5 lakh on his head. DySP Navendu and DySP Vimal were leading the UPSTF squad at the time of the encounter. Sophisticated foreign-made weapons were reportedly recovered from the site of the encounter.

A former member of the parliament and Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Samajwadi Party, Ahmed was elected as a legislative assembly member from the Allahabad West constituency for a record five consecutive terms.

The First Gangster

Atiq Ahmed is the first person who was booked under the 'Gangster Act' in Uttar Pradesh, police records show as per a 2013 IANS report. In 1979, Ahmed is said to first have entered the world of crime when he was accused of murder. At present, he has over 70 criminal cases lodged against him. Most recently being registered with the Dhoomanganj police station of Prayagraj in connection with the murder of Umesh Pal, the key witness in the 2005 murder case of Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Raju Pal.

The former don-turned-politician started his political journey in 1989 when he won the MLA seat from Allahabad West as an independent candidate. Between the years 1999-2003, he was the president of the Apna Dal, founded by Sone Lal Patel. After retaining his seat in the next two legislative Assembly elections independently, Ahmed joined the Samajwadi Party and won his fourth consecutive term in 1996. He won his seat again in 2002 from Apna Dal three years later.

From 2004–2009, Atiq was elected as a Samajwadi Party MP for the 14th Lok Sabha from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh. Atiq was named along with Ashraf and seven unidentified people by Raju Pal’s wife in her FIR following Pal’s murder on January 25, 2005. According to reports, the incident took place after Raju defeated Ahmed’s brother, Ashraf, in an Assembly by-poll held in 2005 for the Allahabad West seat. “It was a big loss for the Ahmed family as the seat had fallen vacant after Atiq won the Lok Sabha seat from Allahabad in the 2004 general elections”, The Indian Express said.

Raju was shot dead on his way from a hospital near his house. He was returning along with his associates Sandeep Yadav and Devi Lal. Charges of rioting, attempt to murder, murder, and criminal conspiracy were pressed in the FIR.

As a result of extreme political and police pressure, Atiq Ahmed surrendered in 2008 only to be released in 2012. In 2008 he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party, and Mayawati refused him a ticket under BSP. However, since he was yet not convicted in any of the cases, Ahmed was allowed to contest during the 2009 General Elections.

A Surrendered Gangster

In 2014, Atiq was given a ticket from SP to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Shrawasti constituency. Though Atiq secured a quarter of the votes, he lost by nearly a lakh votes to BJP’s Daddan Mishra. The gangster-turned-politician’s graph gradually declined as his relationship with the SP soured, with Akhilesh Yadav distancing himself because of Ahmed’s criminal record.

On December 14, 2016, Atique along with his henchmen assaulted the staff members of Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences. Reportedly, the staff had debarred two students from appearing in the examinations after they were caught cheating. A purported video of Atiq Ahmad beating the SHUATS teacher and employees went viral and was widely circulated across social media.

On February 10, 2017, the Allahabad High Court summoned the criminal history of Atiq and also directed the Superintendent of police of Allahabad to arrest all the accused in the case. Atiq was arrested by the police on February 11 after which he was remanded to 14-day judicial custody. Despite being imprisoned, Ahmed contested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in 2019 and could only get 855 votes.

On February 24 this year, Umesh Pal, the prime witness in the Raju Pal murder, was attacked and killed along with his police guard who were shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj. The police registered an FIR against Atiq Ahmed, his wife Sahista Parveen, their two sons, his younger brother Khalid Azim alias Ashraf, and others on February 25.

He was transferred from the Sabarmati jail on Tuesday to appear before the court in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj. During his interaction with the media on his journey, he was quoted saying that he feared for his life and had doubts about Uttar Pradesh Police's intentions.