Backing Yogi Adityanath over the encounter of gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad’s son Asad, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday said if the Uttar Pradesh chief minister wants to end mafia raj then there should be no question of caste and religion. Criminals and terrorists have no caste or religion, he said, adding that those who have suspicions on such police action can always approach courts for remedial measures. As per UP police, Asad and his associate Ghulam, both accused in the February 24 murder of Umesh Pal, a key witness in the 2005 killing of then BSP MLA Raju Pal, were shot dead after they opened fire at a Special Task Force team that had encircled them in Jhansi on Thursday.
The murder of Umesh Pal and the brazen manner in which it was carried out had cast a shadow on Adityanath’s assertions that law and order had vastly improved in UP under Bharatiya Janata Party rule, leading to him swearing in the Assembly there that he would wipe out mafia. “Yogi ji (Adityanath) has said since the beginning that he will end mafia raj in Uttar Pradesh. If the CM has said he wants to end mafia raj then there should be no question of caste and religion,” Raut told reporters. “Criminals and terrorists have no religion or caste. But if anyone is killing extra-constitutionally or brutally then the doors of the courts are open,” the Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha MP added.
He, however, also taunted the Adityanath government by claiming the people of Uttar Pradesh as well as those in power there were of the opinion that mafia raj prevails in the northern state. “The (UP) CM has announced he will destroy mafia raj. If Uttar Pradesh really has mafia raj and for that if the police have to take weapons in their hands, then it is a question on that government,” he said. Umesh Pal, a key witness in the 2005 murder case of then BSP MLA Raju Pal, and his two police security guards were shot dead outside his home in Prayagraj’s Dhoomanganj area on February 24 this year. Based on a complaint lodged by Umesh Pal’s wife Jaya Pal, a case was registered on February 25 against Atiq Ahmad, his brother Ashraf, son Asad, Ghulam and others.
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have demanded an investigation into Thursday’s encounter. Incidentally, on Friday, the UP police said they had gunned down 183 alleged criminals in encounters in the six years of Yogi Adityanath’s government, including Asad. As per UP police data, more than 10,900 police encounters have taken place in the state since March 2017, when Adityanath took over as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for the first time. In these encounters, 23,300 alleged criminals were arrested and 5,046 were injured, while 13 policemen were killed and 1,443 injured.