Mukhtar Ansari can step aside. Ateeq Ahmad is now the target of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh.
Ahmad, 62, has over 100 criminal cases lodged against him, including the latest one lodged with the Dhoomanganj police station in Prayagraj on Friday in connection with the murder of Umesh Pal, the main witness of the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal in 2005.
He is presently lodged in Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad in Gujarat since 2019.
In the Umesh Pal murder case, Ateeq's two sons Umar and Ali, his wife Shaista Parveen, brother Ashraf have also been booked.
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Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to ensure a 'complete crackdown on Ateeq Ahmad and his 'empire'
"Mafia ko mitti mein mila denge," the chief minister said in the UP Assembly on Saturday.
A senior police official, who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity, said, "The Umesh Pal murder will prove to be the proverbial last nail in the coffin for Ateeq who has already been under the scanner. His ill-gotten wealth and properties have been seized. To have even dared to plan and execute the murder of Umesh Pal in this government, shows his sense of bravado. We have been asked to demolish the Ateeq Ahmad empire completely."
Ateeq Ahmad had stepped into the crime world in 1979 after being named as accused in a murder case.
Ateeq became active in politics in 1989 and made his debut in representative politics in the same year, winning the Allahabad West assembly seat as an Independent.
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Later, he retained the Allahabad West seat twice -- 1991 and 1993 -- as an independent candidate. However, in 1996, he contested on the same seat as SP candidate and won.
After the SP showed him the door in 1998, he joined the Apna Dal (AD) in 1999 and contested from Pratapgarh but lost.
He again won the Allahabad West seat in the 2002 Assembly elections on Apna Dal ticket.
In 2003, Ateeq returned to the SP fold and in 2004, he won from the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency -- the seat once held by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Ateeq hit the headlines in January 2005, when BSP MLA Raju Pal was shot dead in broad daylight in Prayagraj.
A by-election was held on the seat in 2005 and Ashraf won the election defeating BSP candidate Puja Pal, the widow of Raju Pal.
In the 2007 elections, Ashraf again contested the Assembly polls from the SP but lost to Puja Pal of BSP.
Ashraf was accused in Raju Pal murder and is presently in Bareilly jail.
Five years later, in the 2012 Assembly elections Ateeq again tried his luck from Apna Dal from the same seat but lost to BSP's Puja Pal by a margin of 8,885 votes.
He also contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Shravasti on SP ticket but lost.
In 2019, while he was still in jail, Ateeq filed nomination from the Varanasi constituency against Prime Minister Narendra Modi but managed to get only 855 votes.
According to police records, of the 100 FIRs lodged against Ateeq, 54 cases are under trial at various courts in the state.
In the sustained drive against gangsters under the Yogi Adityanath government, property worth over Rs 150 crore belonging to Ateeq and his family members under the Gangster Act, has been attached.
At one time, Ateeq wielded total control over real estate dealings in Prayagraj, Kaushambhi, Noida, Lucknow and other parts of the country,
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been unearthing details about properties and ill-gotten wealth of the family.
The Prayagraj district police and Special Task Force of the UP Police are also working overtime to compile details of the cases registered against family members of Ateeq across the state.
Deputy SP (STF) Navendu Kumar said, "At least two or three cases were registered against two of Ateeq's sons -- Omar and Ali -- in different parts of the state and both are cooling heels in different jails. The first criminal case was filed against Ateeq's wife Shaista Parveen with Dhoomanganj police station on Friday night itself in connection with the killing of Umesh Pal."
Ateeq was initially the only member of the family to make it to the police records. But soon others in the family too came under the police scanner.
As per the police records over 40 criminal cases were pending against Ateeq's younger brother Ashraf.
In January this year, Ateeq's wife Shaista joined the BSP in presence of senior party leaders and even announced to contest urban civic polls.
However, her future in the BSP now seems uncertain after Mayawati advocated strong action against the guilty in the Prayagraj killing in which unidentified assailants shot dead Umesh Pal and his security personnel.
In a tweet, she said, "The daylight killing of Umesh Pal, the main witness in the Raju Pal murder case and his gunner in Prayagraj is most sad and highly condemnable. This incident exposes the UP government's claim on law and order and the government must take the incident seriously and order a high-level inquiry so that the guilty can be sternly dealt with."
Police officials admit that after the Umesh Pal murder, the spotlight will remain firmly glued on Ateeq Ahmad, his family and his gang.
"Attention will move away from Mukhtar Ansari who took care not to commit any major crime during the Yogi Adityanath regime. Ateeq Ahmad's dare-devil attitude in this murder will cost him dear," said a senior police official.