Breakthrough in Umesh Pal murder case; prime accused's aide detained
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday claimed to have made a breakthrough in the recent murder case of Umesh Pal, a witness to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal's killing in 2005. The police detained Balli Pandit, a close aide of the main accused and jailed gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed. Recently, CCTV footage of Pandit—Pal's alleged shooter—meeting Ahmed's wife went viral on social media.
Why does this story matter?
- On February 24, Pal was shot dead in broad daylight just outside his Prayagraj residence while getting out of his SUV.
- The incident triggered a political row between the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government and Samajwadi Party (SP), with the former accusing SP chief Akhilesh Yadav of sheltering the suspect.
- Days after the incident, Adityanath vowed to wipe out the mafia from UP.
CCTV footage linked Ahmed's aide Pandit to murder case
According to India Today, CCTV footage that showed Pandit visiting Ahmed's wife days before Pal's murder went viral. Shabir, another suspected shooter involved in Pal's murder whose name has been linked to the crime, was also seen in the viral video. Notably, the police had announced a reward of Rs 2.5 lakh for each suspect in the murder case.
Ahmed, brother Azim named as accused in Pal's murder
According to the police, two bombs were hurled at Pal's car and he was shot using a small firearm. The police have charged Ahmed and his brother, 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 Vijay Chaudhary, were shot dead by 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.
MLA Raju killed in 2005 to avenge election defeat
UP's Allahabad West Assembly seat became vacant after Ahmed, then an SP member, became an MP in 2004. The same year, the BSP's Raju ran for the UP Assembly and won the 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 the electoral defeat.