Former TELEVISION chief Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, who has been missing in Kenya since July, has been killed, a close aide to Kenyan President William Ruto has said.
While nothing has been officially confirmed by the Indian government, it has been learned that Khan, 48, has been caught up in a bitter fight between political parties in Kenya that witnessed elections in August this year. William Ruto won the election to become Kenya’s president this September after defeating incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
Khan was found to have been tapped by Ruto’s opposition team for help with the social media campaign. It is believed that this did not go down well with the ruling establishment in Kenya led by President Kenyatta. As a result, he was kidnapped – a claim corroborated by President Ruto’s aide Dennis Itumbi.
In a post on social networking site Twitter, he said the missing Indian was killed by the now-disbanded Special Services Unit (SSU), a group that was 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 in July along with taxi driver Nicodemus Mwania from Mombasa Road. The two worked for Ruto’s campaign, said Itumbi, who was a key player in Ruto’s presidential campaigns.
He praised them, saying in his Twitter posts, “Sometimes when our team was overwhelmed and we needed graphics, I sent (material) their way and they stopped what they were doing and did me a favor.”
“They visited Mombasa, Homa Bay, (Masai) Mara, nyama choma joints and also fell in love with our dance clubs. They invited me to India; I told them that I would visit after (the) election. Their eyes were primarily on enjoying Kenya as much as they could. When they sat down, they created very engaging content,” he added.
“As usual (Zaid and Khan) always went the extra mile. A meme here, a video there, a box quote and much more,” he said. “We even had a telegram group that was rarely silent with endless ideas.
Just two days before they returned to India, Itumbi recalled, he learned that the duo had lost their phone during the night. “It was impossible to reach them. Just recently, I finally got to know their painful last moments at the hands of people whose sole mission was to ensure that Dr Ruto did not become president, even if it meant killing people,” he said. “In this case, they killed people whose only fault was that they were our friends.
The Twitter posts come after President Ruto last Saturday ordered the disbandment of the SSU after an investigation into the disappearance of two Indians was linked to the unit, a Kenyan media report said. Officials who served in the unit are also checked.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the Indian government was in touch with the Kenyan authorities on the matter.
Last week, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “Our understanding is that 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 shortly thereafter… A habeas corpus petition was subsequently filed in a Kenyan court. We understand that the matter is now sub judice in the High Court of Kenya and a series of hearings have taken place.
He said the Indian High Commission in Kenya is in touch with the Kenyan authorities.
Khan was COO of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms and former director of Indian entertainment channel Star Plus.
Khan’s friend said on Sunday that his friends only knew what had been reported in the media so far.
His friends had previously said Khan was visiting Kenya as a tourist and his family and friends stopped hearing from him around July 21. Earlier this month, his friends asked authorities in India and Kenya for help to track him down. Khan, Resident Bombayhe left for Kenya in the last week of June, a friend said last week.
On October 20, his friends also shared a note reiterating that he was in Kenya as a tourist and that he had met several Indians while in Kenya as a tourist.