Atiq Ahmed was said to be the first person to have been booked under the ‘Gangster Act’ in UP. He was elected as an MLA for a record five consecutive terms, and went on to win an MP term too.
Atiq Ahmed was a notorious criminal who has been involved in a plethora of criminal activities, ranging from murder to extortion and land-grabbing. He has been a prominent figure in the world of crime in the state since the 1980s and has managed to maintain his influence despite facing numerous criminal charges.
Born in a small village in Uttar Pradesh, Ahmed started his criminal career at a young age. He began by indulging in petty crimes like theft and robbery, but soon moved on to more serious crimes. He formed his own gang and started extorting money from local businessmen and contractors. His reputation as a ruthless and feared gangster grew with every passing day, and he soon became one of the most powerful and influential criminals in the state.
Ahmed’s criminal activities were not limited to Uttar Pradesh. He had a pan-India network and was involved in several high-profile cases across the country. He was accused of masterminding the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal in 2005 and was also named as an accused in the murder of BJP leader Krishnanand Rai in 2005. Ahmed was also involved in the abduction and murder of an engineer in 1996 and the murder of a local lawyer in 2002.
Atiq Ahmed contested the 1989 assembly elections as an Independent candidate from the Allahabad West seat and won. He contested the 1996 polls on Samajwadi Party ticket and then as an Apna Dal candidate in 2002, holding on to the seat throughout. He was the president of Apna Dal from 1999 to 2003.
Allahabad West constituency remained his family stronghold for long.
In 2004, Atiq vacated the assembly seat to contest the Lok Sabha elections. The Samajwadi Party gave him a ticket from Phulpur and he was elected to the 14th Lok Sabha. Phulpur was the same seat from where first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru won the general elections three times.
The seat he vacated was won by BSP’s Raju Pal, who defeated Atiq’s brother Khalid Azim alias Ashraf in the 2004 bypoll against all expectations. Within months, Raju Pal was killed. The murder took place on January 25, 2005, and on the basis of a complaint filed by Raju Pal’s wife Pooja Pal, the police booked Atiq along with others in the case.
As the murder necessitated another bypoll, Ashraf this time won the Allahabad West seat, defeating Raju’s wife Pooja Pal.
Atiq surrendered in 2008 after a lot of political pressure, and was subsequently expelled from the Samajwadi Party the same year. BSP leader Mayawati refused to give him a party ticket, saying “(Raju) Pal was very dear to us” and they could not allot a ticket to Atiq who was charged with his killing, as quoted by an IANS report in 2009.
Atiq was, however, allowed to contest the 2009 parliamentary polls from jail since he had not yet been convicted in any case. He was released from jail in 2012.
In 2014, Atiq contested the Lok Sabha poll from the Shrawasti constituency as an SP candidate, but lost to the BJP’s Daddan Mishra. His downfall started soon as his relationship with the party turned sour and Akhilesh Yadav started to distance himself from him.
On December 14, 2016, Atiq and his henchmen were accused of assaulting the staff members of Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, reportedly because they had stopped two students from appearing in the examinations since they were caught cheating. A purported video of Atiq beating the staff was widely circulated on social media. Early next year, the Allahabad High Court asked the Allahabad police to arrest all the accused in the case. Atiq was arrested on February 11, 2017. He went on to contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in 2019 from jail but lost badly.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of India ordered the transfer of all cases against Ahmed outside of Uttar Pradesh to ensure a fair trial. This decision was seen as a major blow to his political and criminal career. The court observed that Ahmed had a history of using his political influence to intimidate witnesses and derail investigations. The transfer of cases was seen as a step towards ensuring that justice was served and that Ahmed would finally face the consequences of his actions.
Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed was shot dead by assailants while in the custody of Prayagraj police on 15th April 2023, Saturday night. His brother Ashraf was with him and he was killed too. Both were handcuffed and were replying to media persons’ queries when the incident occurred and was caught on camera.