Video Credit: YouTube
Gunmen seemingly posing as journalists have shot dead a former Indian member of parliament and his brother, live on television, as they were being taken — in handcuffs — to hospital by police, authorities said.
Atiq Ahmed, 61 — who had been jailed since 2019 and was convicted of kidnapping — was answering reporters’ questions on Saturday evening, local time, when he and his brother, Ashraf, were shot at close range, television images showed.
“According to preliminary information, three persons posing as journalists approached them and opened fire … The attackers have been held and are being questioned,” police official Prashant Kumar said.
A TV clip of the incident in the northern city of Prayagraj shows the assailants shouting Hindu slogans after the brazen attack.
The two victims were from India’s Muslim minority, but police did not say whether they were investigating a possible sectarian motive in the killings.
While the brothers were deeply involved in India’s criminal underworld — the former MP was reportedly facing more than 100 different court cases — press reports said the attackers were petty criminals.
The pair were being taken to hospital for medical examinations and they were surrounded by police officers at the time.
Local media reports said one of the gunmen was even carrying a television camera and another a microphone with the logo of a television channel.
Several days earlier, police in the same state of Uttar Pradesh said they had shot dead Ahmed’s 19-year-old son and his accomplice in a shootout.
Both were wanted for questioning in relation to a murder case.
Scores of people facing charges have been killed in the state in recent years, in similar so-called “police encounters”, which rights groups say are often extra-judicial executions.
Ahmed — who had been facing charges of murder and assault — last month had claimed in a petition to India’s top court that his life was under threat from the police.
After his shooting, gatherings of more than four people were banned on Sunday across the crime-riven northern state of 200 million people that is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
The shooting sparked outrage among opposition parties who accused the BJP of ruling by fear.
Hundreds of politicians belonging to all parties across India have criminal cases pending against them, with impoverished Uttar Pradesh a particular hotspot.
These include nearly half of government ministers in the state, including the state premier, according to independent monitoring group the Association for Democratic Reforms.