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Prayagraj (UP), April 24 – Lovelesh Tiwari, Sunny Singh and Arun Maurya, the three assailants who gunned down mafia-politician Atiq Ahmad and his younger brother Khalid Azeem a.k.a Ashraf here on April 15, had come to Lucknow before reaching Prayagraj by bus to carry out the killings.
The three revealed this during interrogation by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). However, they did not disclose the reason for their visit to Lucknow.
After reaching the Prayagraj bus stand, they had roamed around and then on April 13, taken a room at a hotel near Khuldabad police station where they had kept watching television, collecting information about Atiq’s movements in police custody, officials said.
Efforts were still on to find if the trio had local support, officials added.
It may be recalled that on April 15 night, Atiq and Ashraf were gunned down by the three assailants at Motilal Nehru (Colvin) Divisional Hospital here.
The accused — Banda resident Lovelesh Tiwari, 22, Hamirpur resident Sunny Singh, 23, and Kasganj resident Arun Maurya, 18 — were arrested by police on the spot after surrendering.
Officials investigating the case and questioning the accused said that the three assailants had visited the Motilal Nehru (Colvin) Divisional Hospital on April 14, a day before the murders, also.
They had returned to the hotel after carrying out a reconnaissance of the hospital premises.
On April 15, they had reached the hospital separately in battery operated e-rickshaws to avoid suspicion, the officials said.
The trio had assembled inside the hospital before the police reached the spot with Atiq and Ashraf and shot them when the duo was being taken inside the hospital on foot for medical examination, the officials said.
Investigators scanned footage of over 40 CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity of the hospital to monitor the movement of the assailants from the hotel to the hospital to ascertain if there were others helping them. No other suspects have been identified till now, officials further said.
The SIT also inspected room number 203 of the hotel where the assailants had stayed.
The hotel falls under the jurisdiction of Khuldabad police station and is located opposite the city side of the Prayagraj junction railway station. Officials seized the hotel register, CCTV footage, DVR (digital video recorder) and sealed the room.
Police also recovered two mobile phones from the hotel room which were without SIM cards.
Hotel manager Akhilesh Singh informed the police that the three assailants had booked the rooms and submitted their identification documents as per rules. It was only when police reached the hotel that the staff came to know that they were involved in the attack on Atiq and Ashraf.
The manager did not disclose more details and claimed that all information had been provided to police.
SIT officials said one of the assailants, Lovelesh Tiwari, had come to Prayagraj during Kumbh-2019, but the other two visited the city for the first time this month to kill Atiq and Ashraf.
The two mobile phones recovered on the basis of their inputs from the hotel room were being used by Lovelesh and Arun.
However, Mohit a.k.a Sunny Singh, who has a past history of committing serious crimes, was not using any mobile phone to avoid being detected. No suspicious mobile number had been identified after scanning of their call details.
The assailants usually made calls to their kin several days ago, officials claimed.