Authorities said gunmen dressed as journalists opened fire on a former Indian member of parliament and his brother as they were being led in handcuffs to a hospital by police.
According to television photos, Atiq Ahmed, 61, had been imprisoned since 2019 and was convicted of kidnapping when he and his brother Ashraf were shot at close rangeAhmed, 61, had been imprisoned since 2019 and was convicted of kidnapping when he and his brother Ashraf were shot at close range, according to television photos.
“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.
After the brazen attack, the perpetrators can be seen on TV in the northern city of Prayagraj yelling Hindu chants.
The two fatalities were members of India’s Muslim minority, although authorities did not clarify whether they were looking into a possible sectarian motive.
The brothers were intimately involved in India’s criminal underworld (the ex-MP was facing more than 100 different cases), while the attackers were described as petty criminals by press reports.
At the time, the duo were escorted to the hospital for medical checks and surrounded by police officials.
According to local media reports, one of the shooters was carrying a television camera and another a microphone with a television channel logo.
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 in a case of murder.
Hundreds of people pursuing charges have been killed in the state in recent years in what rights advocates call “police encounters,” which are typically extrajudicial executions.
Ahmed, who was facing murder and assault accusations, said last month in a petition to India’s Supreme Court that the police were threatening his life.
Following his shooting, gatherings of more than four individuals were outlawed across the 200-million-person northern state administered by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday.
The incident infuriated opposition parties, who accused the BJP of ruling by fear.
Hundreds of politicians from all parties face criminal charges across India, with underdeveloped Uttar Pradesh being a hotspot.
These include nearly half of state government ministers, including the state premier, according to independent monitoring group the Association for Democratic Reforms.