Umesh Pal murder: 'Pakistan link' suspected, shooter traced to Ajmer
The Uttar Pradesh Police began investigating a Pakistani connection in the high-profile Umesh Pal murder case, according to India Today. The police tracked down another suspected shooter of jailed gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed's gang, Mohammad Ghulam, to Ajmer. Earlier, cops found that another shooter—Vijay Kumar alias Usman Chowdhary—who was killed in a police encounter in Prayagraj, also had a hideout near Ajmer Sharif Dargah.
Why does this story matter?
- On February 24, Pal, a witness to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal's killing in 2005, was shot dead in broad daylight just outside his Prayagraj residence while getting out of his SUV.
- The incident triggered a political row between CM Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government and the Samajwadi Party (SP), with the former accusing SP chief Akhilesh Yadav of sheltering the suspects.
Second suspected shooter tracked down to Ajmer
According to India Today, Ghulam, one of the suspected shooters in the Pal murder case, was tracked down to Ajmer by the Pragyaraj Police. They suspect he had links to Pakistan. Sources told the publication that Ghulam made arrangements for his Ajmer stay before Pal's killing and was last seen in the Rajasthan city. Meanwhile, Kumar was killed in an encounter on March 6.
Police likely to shift main accused Ahmed to Pragyaraj
Reportedly, the police will bring the main accused, former MP Ahmed, to Prayagraj from Gujarat's Sabarmati Jail in connection with the case. They were to leave for Prayagraj on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, his close aide Jarrar Ahmad, who had a Rs. 25,000 bounty on his head, was injured in a police encounter on Saturday. They recovered a rifle and live cartridges from his possession.
Breakthrough after arrest of prime accused's aide
On March 13, the police claimed to have made a breakthrough in the Pal murder case after detaining Balli Pandit, another close aide of gangster-turned-politician Ahmed. This came after CCTV footage of Pandit—Pal's alleged shooter—meeting Ahmed's wife went viral on social media.
Ahmed, brother Azim accused in Pal's murder
According to the police, two bombs were hurled at Pal's car on February 24, and he was shot using a small firearm. The police have charged Ahmed and his brother, ex-MLA Khalid Azim alias Ashraf, with Pal's murder. They had also filed an FIR against Ahmed's wife, Sahista Praveen, and their sons in the case, which was being investigated by the Special Task Force.
Murder suspects killed in separate encounters
In an unexpected turn of events in the case, two suspects in Pal's murder case, namely Arbaz and Kumar, were shot dead by the police in separate encounters that took place just a week apart, on February 27 and March 6, respectively. On March 9, the brother of another suspect, Shabir, was found dead in a field in the Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh.
Know about Raju Pal's killing
In 2004, UP's Allahabad West Assembly seat became vacant after Ahmed, then an SP member, became an MP. The same year, the BSP's Raju ran for the UP Assembly and won this seat by defeating Azim. In 2005, Raju, who was also said to be Ahmed's aide at one point, was reportedly chased and gunned down in broad daylight to avenge Azim's electoral defeat.