'Policeman's baton and bullets are not ornaments': UP top cop Prashant Kumar

Interview/ Prashant Kumar, special DG (law and order), Uttar Pradesh


Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said that his government will stamp out the mafia in Uttar Pradesh. The killings of Atique Ahmed and brother Ashraf has brought the focus on the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. Prashant Kumar, special DG (law and order), says the terror of these gangsters was widespread and the police are doing the best they can.

Q/ What were the security arrangements when Atique Ahmed and his brother were shot dead?

A/ There were around 20 policemen with them when they were taken for medical examination. When the accused is in police custody, it is mandatory to get them medically examined. When the media crew with ID cards and cameras reached the spot, he was moving to the hospital. But Atique was press friendly and he had even said that he was surviving today because of the media. When he saw them, he stopped to speak and then we all have seen what happened. What were the options before the police at that time? In the case of indiscriminate retaliatory firing by police, the police would have fired from the opposite direction of the gunmen endangering the lives of media persons. Had the police shot all the assailants, it would have been said that the police killed all the evidence along with them. So, in the given circumstances, the police had to take all the aspects into consideration before any knee-jerk reaction.

Q/ Are there threats of retaliatory attacks by gangsters?

A/ There are no threats. In fact, a large number of victims are relieved as the terror of these gangs was widespread. I have not got any threat calls but these are professional hazards we must face. It is my Constitutional duty to take action against criminals as per law.

Q/ Uttar Pradesh is a communally sensitive state. Can these killings disturb law and order?

A/ The accused had committed several crimes against all sections of society, whether it is crimes against women, kidnappings or killings. So the sentiments of the people are not in favour of the criminals.

Q/ What was the police operation that led to the killing of Atique’s son, Asad Ahmed?

A/ The Umesh Pal murder was led by Asad in order to deliver an unmistakable message about the passing over of the baton of Atique’s criminal empire. It was a daredevil act carried out by the gangsters in broad daylight on February 24. In the afternoon, the group of gangsters carrying unlicensed weapons hurled locally manufactured bombs and gunned down Umesh Pal, an important witness in a case (of the murder of BSP leader Raju Pal and two policemen). Asad was caught on surveillance camera committing the crime and identified by the widow [of Umesh Pal], who lodged an FIR and named a few people including Asad and his associate Ghulam. Asad had been on the run since the murder of Umesh Pal. We received intelligence inputs that they would be travelling to Jhansi, which is a bordering district hence strategically important on the Prayagraj route. Asad and his associates hatched a sinister plan to engage the police teams escorting Atique from Sabarmati in a fierce gun battle in Jhansi and thereby freeing him from police custody. However, Asad was cornered in police firing and got injured. He was declared dead when taken to the hospital.

Q/ There are concerns about ‘trigger happy’ policemen and human rights violations in police encounters.

A/ The baton and bullets of a policeman are not mere ornaments. They are supposed to be used if the situation merits so. There are certain guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in police encounter cases and deaths in police custody. These laid-down procedures and processes need to be followed and we are doing that.