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Who is Mukhtar Ansari, the gangster-turned-legislator brought back to UP Jail from Punjab?

Ansari is the product of the criminalisation of politics that emerged in UP in 1980’s when the village panchayat and assembly polls were held under the shadow of dacoits

April 07, 2021 / 04:06 PM IST

Gangster-turned-politician, Mukhtar Ansari was brought back to Banda jail in Uttar Pradesh on April 7, after spending two years in a Rupnagar prison in Punjab where he was lodged since January 2019 in an extortion case.

Ansari, 57, was ferried in an ambulance guarded by a strong posse of gun-toting security personnel throughout the 900-km journey between Punjab and Haryana. The Uttar Pradesh Police took Ansari’s custody at Rupnagar jail on April 6, in accordance with a Supreme Court order.

Ansari hogged the limelight last week after Uttar Pradesh police lodged an FIR alleging fake documents were used to register the ambulance that was used to ferry him from a Punjab jail to a court. The Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government also told the Supreme Court that the Congress government of Punjab was “shamelessly protecting” him by not handing over his custody to face trial in ‘ten heinous cases of murder, extortion, cheating, fraud and gangster acts” lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh.

READ: Adityanath's war on crime: Encounters spiked after Yogi took oath as Uttar Pradesh CM in 2017

In October last year, BJP MLA from Mohammadabad, Alka Rai, wife of former legislator Krishnanad Rai, had written to the Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, accusing the Punjab government of helping Ansari, an accused in the murder of her husband in 2005, evade court appearances in Uttar Pradesh.

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Ansari’s wife, Afshan, however, moved the Supreme Court on April 6, seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh Police and jail authorities to ensure that her husband gets a “free and fair trial” in the criminal case against him and does not end up being killed in a fake encounter, Bar & Bench reported.

From the illustrious family

Mukhtar Ansari, was born on June 30, 1963 in a family from Ghazipur,  that had given reputed personalities. His paternal grandfather, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, was a freedom fighter and the Congress’ president in 1927–28 besides being one of the founding members and former vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi. His maternal grandfather Brigadier Mohammad Usman Ansari, known as ‘Lion of Nowshera’, was a Mahavir Chakra awardee. His brother Afzal Ansari, is the BSP MP from Ghazipur.

Heinous crimes

Ansari, who was involved in property business and contract work, is said to have begun expanding his network in the world of crime in 1990s across eastern Uttar Pradesh also known as Purvanchal. To begin with, he was a member of the Makhanu Singh gang. Today, he is a history-sheeter in Mohammadabad police station of Ghazipur district with 38 cases of heinous crimes lodged against him. Over all, he is involved in 52 criminal cases in UP and elsewhere. He has been acquitted in most of the cases, though. In July 2020, a Delhi court acquitted him and six others including brother and BSP MP Afzal Ansari in the murder case of BJP MLA Krishna Nand Rai in 2005.

In 2017, a local court of Ghazipur, UP acquitted him in a case related to the 2009 murder of Ajai Prakash Singh, a contractor, in Mau.

Also,read: Coal-blooded dons: The rise and fall of Anup Majhi and Joydeb Mondal

Bad man turning to politics

Like any other bad men in politics, Ansari is one of the most celebrated ‘Robinhoods’ in the region. Voters in Mau (sadar), 100 km from Gorakhpur, have elected him five times over, many times when he was in jail.

Ansari, successfully contested his first assembly election on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket from Mau seat in 1996. In 2002, he won the seat again as an independent candidate, after being denied a ticket by the BSP.  In 2007, he retained the seat as an independent candidate. He joined BSP again and was defeated in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls by BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi in Varanasi, the seat now represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After being expelled from BSP again for his criminal links in 2010, Ansari floated the Quami Ekta Dal and won the 2012 assembly election from Mau.

In 2017 UP assembly polls, Ansari won from Mau on BSP ticket again. However, his son Abbas Ansari, who was in fray from Ghosi seat and brother Sibgatullah Ansari who had contested from Mohammadabad lost the polls.

Crime pays in Uttar Pradesh?

Ansari is product of the criminalisation of politics that emerged in UP in 1980’s when the village panchayat and assembly polls were held under the shadow of dacoits. Voters have been favouring lawmakers with criminal backgrounds, in UP. Of the 403 new lawmakers elected to the Uttar Pradesh assembly in 2017, 143 have criminal cases, including of murder, pending against them, according to election watchdog, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). Of the 143, 107 face serious charges including of murder and crimes against women.

The Punjab connection

Ansari, who has been in jail for most of the time since 2005,  was arrested in January 2019 for allegedly making an extortion call to a Mohali-based builder. In May 2020, in a crackdown by Uttar Pradesh police against Ansari and his gang, seventy-two arms licenses linked to him and his accomplices were suspended. Properties worth Rs 66 crore seized, and an extortion racket that supplied crores of rupees annually to Ansari and his associates was busted, police said.

(With PTI inputs)
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 11 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.

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