After two years in Punjab jail, Mukhtar Ansari on way to UP

After two years in Punjab jail, Mukhtar Ansari on way to UP

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday took custody of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari from Punjab’s Ropar jail to transfer him to Banda prison. The BSP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Mau, who had been lodged in the Ropar jail since January 2019 in connection with an extortion case, is returning ti his home state after a period of more than two years.

Ansari is facing 52 cases in the state and elsewhere and 15 of them are in the trial stage. A UP police official said that after completing a journey of about 900 kilometres, Ansari will reach Banda on Wednesday morning and will be kept in Barack No. 15 of the district jail.

Banda jailor Pramod Tiwari said all security arrangements in the jail have been beefed up. “Security personnel have been posted inside as well as outside the jail premises. In Barrack No. 15, where Ansari will be kept, arrangements of light, drinking water and cleanliness have been spruced up,” Tiwari said.

He added that access to other jail inmates to the barrack 15 of the prison has been stopped.

Tiwari also said the main gate of the jail premises, which generally remains open, will now be kept closed. Only the jail staff coming on duty will be allowed, but only after proper screening.

Earlier, a convoy of six UP Police vehicles, one Vajra vehicle and an ambulance from Banda, headed by a DSP, along with around 40 other police personnel and a medical team reached Ropar at about 4:30 am, a senior Punjab police official said.

Punjab ADGP (Prisons) PK Sinha said the team arrived at the jail at noon after registering its attendance at a police station in Ropar. First, the Ropar jail administration got Ansari’s medical check-up done. The same was done again by the medical team from UP before taking the custody. The team left at about 2 pm after the completion of legal formalities.

Heavy security arrangements were made by the Punjab Police outside the Ropar jail. Barricades were also put by the police on the road leading to the jail.

The transfer comes following a legal battle between UP and Punjab over Ansari. The five-time MLA is a history-sheeter in Mohammadabad police station of Ghazipur district. The cases are lodged at various police stations in different districts, including Lucknow, Ghazipur and Mau. While Ansari has been acquitted in most of these cases, he still faces trial in some of them.

The gangster had been lodged in Punjab jail since January 2019 after he was booked for extortion (Section 386 of Indian Penal Code) and criminal intimidation (Section 506 of the IPC) on the complaint of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Homeland Group engaged in real estate business in Punjab and the National Capital Region. In his complaint to the Mohali SSP, the CEO had stated that on January 9, 2019 evening he answered a call from a person who introduced himself as “some Ansari from UP” and asked him to pay up Rs 10 crore if he wanted to ensure the safety of his family. The complainant said he had recorded the call. The police lodged an FIR in which Ansari was named as the accused with his address as Banda, Uttar Pradesh.

The Punjab Police brought Ansari on production warrant from Banda jail in UP about a fortnight after the registration of this case. He has been lodged in the Ropar jail since then.

On March 26, while hearing a plea of Uttar Pradesh government, the Supreme Court had directed the Punjab government to hand over Ansari’s custody to UP, saying it was being denied on trivial grounds under the guise of medical issues. It had also said that a convict or an under-trial prisoner, who disobeys the law of the land, cannot oppose his transfer from one prison to another and the courts are not to be helpless bystanders when the rule of law is being challenged with impunity

On April 3, Punjab Home Department wrote to their UP counterparts to take over the custody of gangster on or before April 8. “It is, hence, requested that suitable arrangements for transfer of the undertrial prisoner Mukhtar Ansari from Dsitrict Jail, Roopnagar (Ropar) may be made and the said transfer/handover be effected,” read the April 3 letter by Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Anurag Agarwal to UP ACS (Home) Avnish Kumar Awasthi.

“It is also mentioned that prisoner Mukhtar Ansari has certain medical conditions and same may be kept in mind while making arrangements for the transport from District Jail Roopnagar to District Jail, Banda, UP,” the correspondence by Punjab ACS (Home) read further.

During the hearing in the top court, the UP government had accused the Punjab government of “shamelessly protecting” Ansari by not handing over his custody to face trial “in 10 heinous cases of murder, extortion, cheating, fraud” and “gangster acts” in the special court for MPs and MLAs in Allahabad.

Earlier in October 2020, Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Alka Rai, wife of former legislator Krishnanand Rai who was murdered in 2005, had shot off a letter to Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, accusing the Congress government in Punjab of helping Ansari evade court appearances in UP. Ansari was named as a key conspirator in Krishnanand’s murder case. A special court in Delhi acquitted him in 2019.

With inputs from PTI

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