There is a new modus operandi in place for carrying out so-called assassinations or hitjobs: killers in disguise. Senior lawyers and retired IPS officers of the state called this a “deadly” trend, while others demanded proper security checks on court premises and other such areas where undertrials are brought.
The reaction came after 48-year-old gangster Sanjeev Maheshwari ‘Jeeva’, an accused in the murder of BJP leaders Brahm Dutt Dwivedi and Krishnanand Rai, was shot dead by an assailant posing as a lawyer in a Lucknow court on Wednesday. Jeeva, a close aide of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, had been brought to court for a hearing in a criminal case.
Before this, on April 15, the state witnessed another case of a “camouflaged killing”. Gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed were shot dead by three men posing as TV journalists. The brothers, who had been brought to a Prayagraj hospital for a medical check-up, were surrounded by a dozen police personnel at the time.
Such killings, however, have become more evident after chief minister Yogi Adityanath, in a verbal spat with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on the topic of the Umesh Pal murder case, had said in the state assembly – ‘Mafia ko mitti mein mila dunga (I will finish the mafia).’
The video went viral and, true to his word, Adityanath has adopted a “zero tolerance policy” against mafia and crime in the state. He was hailed on social media for fulfilling his promise of eliminating some ‘most wanted’ criminals.
“It’s sheer camouflaged killing and the trend is on the rise in UP. Killing of gangster Sanjeev Maheshwari alias Jeeva on the Lucknow court’s premises is shocking and appalling. The state has witnessed an incident of similar nature, where Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were shot dead by three men posing as reporters but despite that police were caught napping for the second time. It’s a serious flaw in terms of security. Coincidently, this trend became all the more visible after the CM’s ‘mitti mein mila dunga’ video went viral,” said Anurag Dixit, a senior criminal counsel and former vice-president of the Central Bar Association, Lucknow sessions court.
Senior lawyer S Mohammed Haider from Lucknow said the intrusion of criminal elements along with weapons in court premises was a breach and contempt of orders passed by the Allahabad High Court, which took cognizance of the murder of an undertrial at a court in Bijnor district.
Haider shared a series of court orders directing the state government to ensure security and protection at all court campuses:
- Advocates’ role in district judgeships should be made forthwith so that advocates appearing in district judgeship are registered in appropriate manner and their identity is known to court staff as well as security personnel
- Litigants’ entry in district judgeships should be allowed with an entry pass for which necessary arrangements shall be made in district judgeships
Advocates are requested to carry their identity cards throughout while they are on the court campus and must show it to security personnel as and when demanded. There should not be any issue of ego or prestige on this aspect since it is a matter of their own security
- A specialised well-trained force should be provided for the purpose of maintaining security in district judgeships throughout the state of UP and, whenever required, personnel from that force may also be deployed in this court along with existing security provided by CRPF, if necessary
- There should be proper arrangements for safe entry of accused who are brought to the court
- Entry of advocates and litigants should be separate.
Haider said a series of other instructions regarding the biometric entry system for entering a court have also been passed, but they are yet to see the light of day. Since this is a serious incident at a court in the state capital, the public should expect the government to implement the instructions of the high court, the lawyer added.
He further said police personnel should be deployed for ensuring security measures inside the court premises, and they should be trained and equipped with modern gadgets. The accused in this case, who has since been arrested, should be awarded the strictest punishment and the matter should be taken to a fast-track court, he added.
Retired IPS officer Akhilesh Mehrotra called it a security lapse and said there should be proper guidelines to ensure safety for criminals in police custody. “Other than issuing guidelines, the UP government should also fix accountability and should issue strict guidelines in order to keep a check on such incidents,” he said.