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‘Someone is complicit’, says Supreme Court on Atiq murder

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday over the killing of former Lok Sabha member Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in police custody in Prayagraj on April 15, observing “someone is complicit”. It has also sought a status report from the state government on the 183 “police encounters” that have taken place since 2017.

According to the state police, 183 people have been killed in numerous police encounters since the Yogi Adityanath government assumed office in March 2017. Yogi’s detractors have often claimed many of them were staged. A bench consisting Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar directed the UP government on Friday to file an affidavit within six weeks giving the details of these encounters, the status of investigation, charge sheets filed and the status of trial.

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“There were 5 to 10 people guarding him (Atiq)… How can someone just come and shoot? How does this happen? Someone is complicit,” the bench observed.

The top court, however, rejected the request of PIL petitioner Vishal Tiwari for institution of an independent judicial commission of enquiry to go into the police encounters and the role of the men in uniform in these, saying the state government has already formed such a commission.

The apex court had earlier agreed to hear the pleas, including the one filed by Aisha Noori, seeking constitution of an enquiry commission chaired by a retired apex court judge into the “extrajudicial” killings. Ahmed and Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men posing as journalists during a media interaction while police were escorting them for a medical examination.

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