FORMER TELEVISION senior executive Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, who had been missing in Kenya since July, has been killed, a close aide of Kenyan President William Ruto has claimed.
While there has been no official confirmation by the Indian government, it is learnt that Khan, 48, was caught in the bitter fight between political parties in Kenya, which witnessed elections in August this year. William Ruto won the elections and became the President of Kenya in September this year, after defeating incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
It is learnt that Khan was tapped by Ruto’s team, which was in the Opposition, for helping with the social media campaign. This is understood to have not gone down well with the ruling establishment in Kenya, which was led by President Kenyatta. As a result, he was abducted — a claim substantiated by President Ruto’s aide, Dennis Itumbi.
In a social media post on Twitter, he said that the missing Indian has been killed by the now-disbanded Special Service Unit (SSU), a group that has been accused of extrajudicial killings.
Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and his friend Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, who were part of the Kenya Kwanza digital campaign team, went missing alongside taxi driver Nicodemus Mwania from Mombasa Road in July. The two were working for Ruto’s campaign, said Itumbi, who was a key player in Ruto’s presidential campaigns.
Praising them, he said, in his posts on Twitter, “Sometimes when our team was overwhelmed and we needed graphics, I sent (material) their way and they paused whatever they were doing and did me the favour.”
“They visited Mombasa, Homa Bay, (Masai) Mara, nyama choma joints and loved our dance joints too. They invited me to India; I told them I would visit after (the) elections. Their eyes were primarily on enjoying Kenya as much as they could. When they sat down, they produced very appealing content,” he added.
“As usual they (Zaid and Khan) always did something extra. A meme here, a video there, a box quote and much more,” he said. “We even had a Telegram group that rarely went silent, with endless ideas.”
Just two days before they returned to India, Itumbi recalled, he learnt that the duo had lost a phone during a night out. “They could not be reached. Just the other day, I finally got to know their painful last moments in the hands of people whose only mission was to ensure Dr Ruto does not become President even if it means killing people,” he said. “In this case, they killed people whose only mistake was to be our friends.”
These Twitter posts come in the wake of President Ruto ordering the disbandment of SSU last Saturday after a probe into the disappearance of the two Indians was linked to the unit, a Kenyan media report said. Officials who have served in the unit are being probed as well.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said that the Indian government has been in touch with the Kenyan authorities on the matter.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said, “As far as we understand, there were two Indian nationals, Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Zaid Sami Kidwai, and they have been missing in Kenya since mid-July. A police complaint was filed there soon after that….Subsequently, a habeas corpus petition was filed in the Kenyan court. We understand that the issue is now sub-judice in the high court of Kenya and a number of hearings have taken place.”
He said the Indian High Commission in Kenya has been in touch with the Kenyan authorities.
Khan was the COO of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms and a former executive of the Indian entertainment channel Star Plus.
A friend of Khan’s said on Sunday that his friends only knew what had been reported in the media so far.
His friends had said earlier that Khan was visiting Kenya as a tourist and his family and friends had stopped hearing from him around July 21. Earlier this month, his friends had put out a call for help from authorities in India and Kenya to trace him. Khan, a resident of Mumbai, had left for Kenya in the last week of June, a friend had said last week.
On Oct 20, his friends had also shared a note, which reiterated that he was in Kenya as a tourist and that he met several Indians in Kenya as a tourist.