The three assailants killed former MP Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in Prayagraj to become famous, the Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday, reported The Indian Express.

“We wanted to finish the gang of Atiq and Ashraf and become famous because this would benefit us in the future for sure,” the police quoted the assailants in a first information report.

The three men have been arrested and identified as Lavlesh Tiwari (22), Mohit alias Sunny Puraney (23) and Arun Kumar Maurya (18). They were produced before a Prayagraj court, which sent to judicial custody till April 29, according to the newspaper.

Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were shot dead while being taken to a hospital in Prayagraj on Saturday. They were attacked as they were talking to the media surrounded by policemen and journalists.

Ahmed, a gangster-turned-politician, faced around 100 criminal cases. In February, Ahmed, his wife Sahista Parveen, their two sons, Ashraf and others have been booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police in the murder of lawyer Umesh Pal, who was a witness in the killing of Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Raju Pal in 2005.

Umesh Pal was shot dead in Prayagraj on February 24. The next day, Chief Minister Adityanath had vowed action against Ahmed in the Legislative Assembly. “I am saying this in the House, we will destroy this mafia,” he had said.

Since then, four accused persons in the Pal’s killing, including Ahmed’s son, have been killed by the Uttar Pradesh Police in “encounters”. Extrajudicial executions, popularly known as “encounters”, have risen since the Bhartiya Janata Party government came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

Police personnel at the site where Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were shot dead in Prayagraj. | PTI

On Sunday, the police stated that the assailants, during questioning, said they had been following Atiq and Ashraf soon after they learnt that the police had brought them to Prayagraj, reported the Hindustan Times.

“The moment we received an update about Atiq and Ashraf being taken into police custody, we planned to kill them by posing as local journalists and blending with the crowd,” they said, according to the FIR.

The three have been booked under sections related to murder and attempt to murder under the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Arms Act and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act.

The Uttar Pradesh government has also formed a three-member judicial commission to investigate Ahmed and Ashraf’s killings, reported PTI.

The commission will be headed by former high court judge Arvind Kumar Tripathi. Former judge Brijesh Kumar Soni and former Uttar Pradesh director general of police Subesh Kumar Singh will be its two other members.

Meanwhile, Ahmed and Ashraf’s bodies were buried in their ancestral village in Prayagraj under heavy police presence.

Plea in Supreme Court

Meanwhile, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court on Sunday seeking formation of an independent expert committee to investigate Ahmad and Ashraf’s killings, reported PTI.

In his plea, advocate Vishal Tiwari, has also sought an inquiry into the 183 “encounters” that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017.

Tiwari said that such actions by police pose a severe threat to democracy and rule of law.

“In a democratic society the police cannot be allowed to become a mode of delivering final justice or to become a punishing authority,” it said. “The power of punishment is only vested in the judiciary.”

It added: “When the police turn dare devils then the entire rule of law collapses and generates fear in the mind of people against the police which is very dangerous for democracy and this also results into further crime.”