Atiq Ahmed gets life for 2006 abduction — former MP’s 1st conviction in 130 cases over 44 years

Atiq Ahmed gets life for 2006 abduction — former MP’s 1st conviction in 130 cases over 44 years

Ahmed was convicted by Prayagraj MP/MLA court for 2006 abduction of Umesh Pal, a witness in BSP MLA Raju Pal’s 2005 murder. Umesh was murdered last month.

File photo of former MP and alleged gangster Atiq Ahmed | By special arrangement

File photo of former MP and alleged gangster Atiq Ahmed | By special arrangement

Prayagraj: Former MP and alleged gangster Atiq Ahmed was Tuesday convicted of abduction in a 16-year-old case and sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the first-ever conviction for Ahmed, who faces 130 cases ranging from murder to extortion and under the National Security Act (NSA). 

The first of these dates back to 1979, when Ahmed was 17.

Ahmed’s conviction stems from a 2007 complaint filed by Prayagraj resident Umesh Pal, who was a witness in the 2005 murder of then BSP MLA Raju Pal. 

Umesh Pal, who had accused Ahmed of abducting him in 2006 and forcing him to testify in his favour, was himself murdered last month in a brazen daylight attack that saw him and his security cover struck with bombs and bullets.  

Ahmed is an accused in both murders.

As it convicted Ahmed — along with his aide Dinesh Pasi and long-time advocate Shaulat Hanif — the MP/MLA court in Prayagraj said Umesh Pal was influenced in an “adverse” manner and made to testify in the former MP’s favour.

Noting that Umesh Pal was killed last month, the court directed the trio to pay Rs 1 lakh each as compensation to his family. 

“In the present case, the complainant Umesh Pal was made to testify in his favour in Raju Pal murder case. The accused Shaulat Hanif had a slip in his hand [in Atiq Ahmed’s office on 28 February 2006] on the basis of which the statement was made,” the court of special judge Dinesh Shukla said in its order, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint.

“All these circumstances show that the witness was influenced in an adverse way and was made to testify in their (Ahmed’s) favour.”

Quoting the 2004 Zahira Habibullah Sheikh versus state of Gujarat judgment, the court noted that the Supreme court had said that, in sensitive cases, it was the duty of the state to provide protection to the witnesses.

“If the state doesn’t provide protection in such cases, then those people who are politically influential and powerful can influence the trial by influencing the witness in an adverse manner,” it said.

The court found Ahmed and Pasi guilty under sections 120-b (conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) read with 149 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), and 506 (2) (aggravated form of criminal intimidation), among others.

Hanif was found guilty under sections 364 (a) (kidnapping for ransom,etc) and 120-b (conspiracy). 

While Hanif was fined Rs 5,000, Atiq and Pasi were fined Rs 9,300 each.

Meanwhile, Ahmed’s brother Khalid Azeem alias Ashraf and 6 others — Javed, Farhan, Aijaz Akhtar, Israr, Asif alias Malli and Abid — were acquitted of all the charges against them. 

The court also directed that Ashraf and Farhan, who were also brought to court, be released from police custody in case they are not accused in any other case. Ashraf, however, faces other charges.

Reacting to the conviction, Umesh’s wife Jaya told mediapersons that she was alone at home and demanded security from the chief minister. Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea filed by Ahmed — where he had cited a potential threat to his life in UP, and demanded that he shouldn’t be transferred to UP from Gujarat’s Sabarmati jail — asking him to move the Allahabad High Court. 

Ahmed was brought to UP from Gujarat, where he had been imprisoned since 2019, Monday.

Speaking to mediapersons, one of his lawyers — Dayashankar Mishra — said that if the client so wants, they will move the Allahabad High Court to appeal the judgment. 

Also Read: Yogi striking at the heart of gangster Atiq Ahmed’s reign — one property at a time

What was the case? 

Umesh Pal was a relative of Raju Pal’s wife Pooja Pal, who was widowed within days of her marriage to the former MLA. 

Raju Pal’s murder was carried out with extreme brutality on 25 January — 18 bullets were recovered from his body — and followed another attempt on his life. He was killed months after he became an MLA, with the candidates against him in the election including Ashraf. 

Pooja too went on to become an MLA from the same seat, Allahabad West, in 2007 

In his complaint, Umesh alleged he was abducted by men in a car near Fansi Imli area in 2006 and pressured to testify in Ahmed’s favour.

Umesh’s friend Rajpal Yadav said he was released “after the then-Handia MLA Mahesh Narayan Singh intervened”. 

Speaking to ThePrint, Umesh’s wife Jaya Pal had also alleged that her husband was pressured to testify in Ahmed’s favour.

“Allurements would be given to him and also threats to life. He was asked not to appear against Atiq but my husband won’t share it with me,” she said.

A case was filed in the matter in 2007, when the Mayawati-led BSP government came to power.

However, Umesh turned hostile in a Prayagraj court in the Raju Pal case and, when the CBI took over the case in 2016, he was dropped as a witness as the agency found him “unreliable”.

In police records, Ahmed’s alleged gang is mentioned as “inter-state gang 227”, while “he himself is history sheeter 39 A” at the Khuldabad police station of Prayagraj. 

A total of 100 cases have been lodged against him between 1979 and 2023, according to UP police records in possession of ThePrint. The total goes up to 130 when cases in other parts of the country are accounted for. 

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

This report has been updated with additional information

Also Read: Why police think Atiq Ahmed went after Umesh Pal — ‘backstabbing’, property rivalry, court cases