Atiq and Ashraf killings: Why didn’t cops shoot at assailants? Queries emerge
LUCKNOW: Often described as “trigger happy” and experts at “encounters”, Uttar Pradesh police personnel – 18 of them- were caught on the wrong foot when three youths posing as newsmen shot Atiq and Ashraf under full media glare and heavy police presence in Prayagraj on Saturday night. Police managed to catch the three accused alive only to be confronted with questions such as why the police force, known for encounters, failed to shoot at the assailants.
Three youths posing as news channel crews had zeroed in on Atiq and Ashraf Ahmed as the police escorted them for a medical checkup. One of them fired the first shot, into Atiq’s left temple, while the other shot at Ashraf. The sudden burst of gunfire sent cops and newsmen scurrying for cover.
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Exactly 22 seconds later, the gunshots stopped. As news channel crews focused their cameras, three youths were seen with their hands in the air and raising religious slogans. Their pistols were spotted lying at a distance. Police pounced on them, bundled them in a police jeep and took them away.
The obvious question was why the police failed to shoot at assailants. “They probably didn’t get the time to react,” said a cop. The firing ended before many realised what was happening. What added to the chaos was that when the firing started, the news crews dispersed and so did the lights and cameras. By the time the camera lights were back on, Atiq and Ashraf were lying on the ground.
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“Apart from the fact that everything happened so quickly that the cops didn’t get time, it would not have been a professionally wise decision for the police to open fire,” said ex-UP DGP AK Jain, now retired.
Another retired IPS officer said, “Had the three been killed on the spot, there would have been no way to unravel the conspiracy behind the two murders. In that case the cops would have been targeted for finishing all evidence.”