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Opposition Parties Unanimously Condemn Atiq-Ashraf Killing, AAP Silent

While Congress and SP didn't explicitly name BJP, RLD questioned its complicity and Mayawati called for SC to act.

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In the political aftermath of the murder of gangster-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf, several state and national parties have raised questions over the ‘lawlessness’ of the incident. While parties like the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal were quick to react Saturday night, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress reacted only by Sunday morning – all alleging that the law and order has been breached.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which recently acquired the status of a ‘national party’, has so far been completely silent on the issue. Leaders of parties from the TMC and Shiv Sena (Uddhav faction) have spoken up.

Meanwhile, while UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced an inquiry into the murder by a three-member judicial commission, his party leaders have come out in support of the murder, with a cabinet minister even calling it ‘divine justice’.

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Atiq Ahmed and Ashraf Ahmed were gunned down late Saturday, 15 April, while being taken for medical examination. The assailants are under police custody; the murder took place in the presence of police as well as media. The killing was caught on live television, as Atiq and Ashraf were speaking to the media when the shooting took place.  

SP, Congress Raise Concerns But Without Naming BJP Explicitly

Former CM and leader of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Akhilesh Yadav was one of the first to react to the murder, however he stuck to targeting the general lawlessness of the state and raised concerns about safety of the public.

“When someone can be killed by firing openly amidst the security cordon of the police, then what about the safety of the general public,” he tweeted.

Last week, when Atiq Ahmed’s son, Asad, was killed in a police ‘encounter’, Yadav had called it a ‘fake encounter’, and called for a probe into the same.

The Congress party reacted to the incident on Sunday morning, with its UP general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra calling for the need to adhere to “the law of the land.”

“Playing with or violating the rule of law and judicial process for any political purpose is not right for our democracy,” she said.

Gandhi did not name Atiq Ahmed, or explicitly name the BJP administration in the tweet.

However, she added, that, “Whoever does this, or gives protection to those who do this, should also be held responsible and the law should be strictly applied to them.”

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Minutes after Gandhi’s tweet, the Congress party released an official statement, sticking to the same tone and largely the same content. Rahul Gandhi hasn't tweeted anything of his own yet, but retweeted Priyanka Gandhi's tweet.

Notably, while the statements of both the SP and Congress criticise the law and order situation, they only hint towards complicity of the state government—not naming the CM or the BJP in their remarks.

Leaders of the Congress party continued to attack the BJP and PM Modi on Friday's Satyapal Malik interview with The Wire, that has created ripples in the political realm. There is a sense among Congress leaders that the Atiq murder is a way of "distracting" from the revelations made by the former governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

RLD Questions BJP Govt Complicity, But Not Of UP Police

Unlike the SP and Congress, the RLD stuck its neck out and questioned the state government, but steered clear of blaming the UP police.

In an exclusive interview to The Quint, Chaudhary raised allegations of complicity of the state BJP government in the incident. “It was not possible for this plan to have been implemented without the complicity of the party in government," he said. The leader consciously chose to not target or point fingers at the UP police. "I have faith in the UP police, I do not blame them for whatever has happened. If you look at the video, it is not as if the police who are there are trying to kill him, they are just not aware what is happening,” he said.

Chaudhary questioned how the assailants had intelligence about Atiq’s movement. "There has to be someone in the government or the administration who is involved, otherwise, this murder would not have been possible," Chaudhary said.

'Just Like Umesh Pal's Murder...': Mayawati

BSP supremo Mayawati’s first reaction to the killing came on Sunday morning, where she compared Atiq-Ashraf's killing to that of Umesh Pal—a primary witness in the 2005 killing of BSP leader Raju Pal—who was gunned down on 24 February. Atiq and members of his family were the accused in the Raju Pal murder case.

Mayawati asked for the Supreme court to take cognizance of the matter—Uttar Pradesh has now become “encounter pradesh”, she wrote.

'Divine Justice': BJP Leader, As CM Calls for Judicial Probe

Multiple BJP leaders have made remarks supporting the killing, or seemingly sympathising with it.

Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister and BJP leader Suresh Khanna called the murder a ‘divine justice.’

“When crime reaches its heights...then some decisions are from above. I believe this is one such ‘aasmani faisla’ (divine justice),” Khanna told ANI.

In a now deleted tweet, minister and former BJP state unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh, wrote in a cryptically, “Paap, punya ka hisaab isi janm main hota hai (one's good and bad acts are settled in this lifetime only).”

Subrat Pathak, BJP MP said that “What has happened in Prayagraj is a matter of investigation.”

“Though the manner of killings cannot be justified yet, one must also remember that those who were killed were no saints. They were wanted in connection with dozens of cases of heinous crimes,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

All this even as CM Yogi Adityanath has set up a 3-member judicial probe in the case, and asked for peace to be maintained in the state.

Meanwhile, BJP MLA Shalabh Mani Tripathi tweeted requesting the media to "not trouble" the father of one of the assailants under custody, Lavlesh Tiwari. "He is already quite troubled. He has made it clear he has nothing to do with Lavlesh Tiwari," Tripathi wrote.

Non-UP Parties Speak Up, But AAP Quiet

Other political parties like the AIMIM also spoke emphatically against the killing. “This was a cold-blooded murder...After this will the public have any faith in the constitution and Law & order of the country?”, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi asked. Owaisi asked for CM Adityanath to step down.

“In a society where murderers are celebrated, what’s the use of a criminal justice system?,” he wrote.

Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) accused the BJP of turning India “into a mafia republic.”

Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav faction) told the media that he would refrain from commenting on the law and order of another state. However, he added that “encounter is a separate issue”, and there have been in encounters in Mumbai too, but “if this incident took place in the presence of UP police, then it is a serious matter.”

However, no leader of the AAP has so far made any comment on the issue.

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