Updated: January 11, 2022 7:56:12 am
BALRAMPUR police on Monday arrested former Samajwadi Party MP Rizwan Zaheer and five others, including his daughter and son-in-law, in connection with the murder of a 50-year-old local Samajwadi Party leader, Firoz Ahmed alias Pappu.
Firoz Ahmed, who joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) last October, was on his way home in Tulsipur on January 4 night when he was attacked by a group of men who slit his neck.
“The murder appears to be a fallout of political ambition and domination in the area,” said Superintendent of Police (Balrampur) Hemant Kutiyal.
According to police, Firoz was preparing to contest the Assembly election from Tulsipur seat, and Rizwan Zaheer (55), who recently returned to the Samajwadi Party from BSP, was also vying for the party ticket for his 33-year-old daughter Zeba Rizwan.
“Rizwan developed enmity with Firoz because of his rising popularity in the area and conspired with others to eliminate him,” Circle Officer (Tulsipur) Kunwar Prabhat Singh said.
Besides Rizwan Zaheer and his daughter, police have also arrested Zeba’s husband Rameez (40), and their three associates — Shakeel (42), Merajul Haq alias Mama (35), and Mehfooz (20).
Merajul Haq and Mehfooz were involved in the killing, while others were involved in the murder conspiracy, the Circle Officer said.
Police said that Rizwan Zaheer, a two-time MP and three-time MLA, has 14 criminal cases, against him. The criminal cases include those of murder and attempt to murder. During the last year’s panchayat election, police booked Rizwan for creating nuisance and invoked National Security Act (NSA) against him. However, NSA could not be confirmed against him after the Advisory Board did not approve it, said Singh, adding that Merajul Haq too has criminal cases against him.
Firoz Ahmed, a local businessman, had contested the panchayat elections as an Independent candidate, and later joined the SP in the presence of party president Akhilesh Yadav. His wife, Khekasha, is the chairperson of the Tulsipur Nagar Panchayat at present, a post held by Firoz earlier.
“During interrogation, Mehfooz admitted that they were planning to kill Firoz for the last one-and-a-half month and had made three attempts earlier, but failed. He said that Rizwan and others were unhappy with Firoz’s rising popularity and suspected that he may get the Samajwadi Party ticket to contest from Tulsipur constituency. Since Rizwan wanted to get the ticket for his daughter, they decided to eliminate Firoz,” said the Circle Officer.
Police said they have recovered weapons, iron rods, knives, and cellphones that were used in the crime from the accused. Police also claimed to have recovered a countrymade pistol from their possession. The firearm was, however, not used to kill Firoz, said police.
According to police, the investigating team went through 250 video clips of CCTVs located around the crime scene and recorded statements of over 100 people. “While going through the video footage, police spotted Merajul and Mehfooz near the crime spot. We questioned them and during interrogation, they confessed to killing Firoz. We also came to know that they were in regular contact with Rameez,” the CO added.
Firoz Ahmed’s cousin, Musheer Khan, also concurred with the police theory. “My brother Firoz had asked for a ticket from Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. There was all possibility that he would get the ticket. Since Firoz’s popularity was rising with every passing day, there was a great likelihood of him winning the election,” Khan added.
“We knew Rizwan Zaheer also wanted the SP ticket for his daughter but we never thought that he would get my brother killed for it,” said Khan, who is a Zila Panchayat member.
Rizwan Zaheer won from Balrampur Lok Sabha constituency twice as SP candidate – in 1998 and 1999. He later joined BSP and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Shrawasti on BSP and Peace Party tickets in 2009 and 2014, respectively.
He won Assembly elections from Tulsipur Assembly seat thrice – as an Independent in 1989, as SP nominee in 1993, and as a BSP candidate in 1996. In 2019, he joined BSP but did not contest the parliamentary election. Last year, he returned to the Samajwadi Party.
His daughter, Zeba Rizwan, unsuccessfully contested the 2017 Assembly election from Tulsipur on a Congress ticket.
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