By Shams Tahir Khan: Gangster-politician Atiq Ahmed’s son Asad, wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, was killed in an encounter by a 12-member Uttar Pradesh STF team in Jhansi on Thursday afternoon. Along with Asad, co-accused Ghulam was also killed in the encounter. They both had a bounty of Rs 5 lakh each on their heads.
According to the FIR, which was exclusively accessed by India Today, Asad and Ghulam were travelling on a red and black Discover motorcycle without a licensed number plate. They left Chirgaon and were heading to Pariccha, when police spotted them and asked them to stop. While Asad and Ghulam tried to get away by firing indiscriminately, the police team fatally shot the duo.
The BJP government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh congratulated the police for their successful operation. But some questions have been raised as to how the entire encounter panned out, the location where it took place and the bike which was being used by Asad and Ghulam to escape.
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NO SCRATCHES ON THE BIKE
According to the Uttar Pradesh STF, Asad and Ghulam were travelling on a red and black Discover motorcycle without a licensed number plate. The police were chasing the wanted duo and later saw the bike which overturned and fell near a bamboo tree off the road. Despite the bike overturning and falling off the road, there was not a single scratch on the bike despite it being rocky and uneven surface. Whether the bike fell while Asad and Ghulam were fleeing or got overturned later is one of the questions being asked.
BIKE KEY DISAPPEARED
Another aspect on which questions are being raised is that there was no bike key attached to the key holder of the motorcycle. This is visible in the photos of the encounter spot. After Asad’s encounter, mediapersons had reached the spot to take pictures before the local police arrived. It could be that the key had fallen down somewhere as the bike was old.
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It is highly unlikely that someone caught in a police encounter would have taken the key out from the bike. There is a mystery shrouding the lost bike key.
NO LICENCE PLATE AND CHASSIS NUMBER
The STF team, which recovered the bike on which Asad and Ghulam were said to be travelling during the encounter, did not have a number plate or chassis number. It is possible that the bike might have been a stolen one. While there is generally an engine number on a bike, it is likely that the engine part could have been stolen too, making it a daunting task for investigators and police to identify the owner of the bike.
The police later took the bike into their possession as part of evidence, and transported it to Baragaon police station.
NO HELMETS FOUND
No helmet was recovered from the encounter spot. According to the Uttar Pradesh Police, Asad and Ghulam were missing for many days and were staying in different states to escape the police radar. Another question arises here. If not for safety, but wouldn’t they have used helmets in bid to avoid being detected?
Even while trying to evade the police, how is it possible that they would not wear helmets? Given the fact that both Asad and Ghulam were wanted by the police, and had bounties on their heads, helmets would have helped them cover their faces to avoid being detected.
And even if they were not wearing helmets, how did they manage to enter Jhansi after travelling from one state to another? Even during the encounter, both the wanted criminals were not wearing helmets. Questions, therefore, are being raised over the missing helmets.
APPROACH ROAD NEAR HIGHWAY BUMPY, ROUGH
The encounter took place in Jhansi’s Baragaon police station area on Thursday afternoon. According to the police, Asad and Ghulam were hiding near Pariccha dam. This place was two kilometres off the National Highway. There is a small road to reach that place, which is rocky, rough and bumpy. So, no vehicle could possibly be driven at a speed of more than 10 to 20 kilometres per hour.
While the STF was chasing Asad and Ghulam, how could they have gone this far? That the duo covered such a distance with the police team on their tails on such a bumpy road is sparking questions.
LOCATION OF ENCOUNTER
Lastly, questions are being raised over the location of the encounter. The area where the encounter took place is situated just two kilometres from the National Highway. There is a small road, which is inaccessible to others, to reach the highway. According to the Uttar Pradesh Police, Asad and Ghulam were hiding in Rajasthan and other places and had fled to Jhansi. They would hardly have known about this small bumpy road.
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Also, when the duo was coming from Rajasthan, the kuccha road would have been on the other side, so it was highly unlikely for them to have seen it.
The site was far from areas of human activity. The nearest toll gate, with the likelihood of CCTV cameras, was 30 kilometres from the encounter spot and there were no dhaba nearby either.
Therefore, questions are being asked about the spot of the encounter.
OPPOSITION REACTS ON ASAD’S ENCOUNTER
Opposition leaders, including BSP chief Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, have reacted to the Jhansi encounter.
Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP of trying to divert attention from the real issues and said it was a fake encounter.
Taking to Twitter, Akhilesh Yadav said, “By doing false encounters, the BJP government is trying to divert attention from the real issues. The BJP does not believe in the court at all. Today’s and recent encounters should also be thoroughly investigated, and the culprits should not be spared. Power does not have the right to decide what is right or wrong. BJP is against brotherhood.”
Mayawati said speculations were being made on the encounter in which Asad was killed and demanded a high-level inquiry into it.
People felt that their apprehension of a repeat of the Vikas Dubey incident had come true. Therefore, a high-level investigation was needed, so that the truth behind the incident could be brought out, added Mayawati.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi gave a similar reaction to Asad’s encounter and asked the BJP, “Will those who killed Junaid and Naseer be killed in an encounter?” Then, he said, “No, you will not, because you encounter in the name of religion.”
(Input from Amit and Pramod Gautam from Jhansi)