Nearly 10 days after the Supreme Court directed the Punjab government to hand over the custody of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari to Uttar Pradesh, where he faces several criminal cases, the Punjab Home Department has asked Uttar Pradesh to take the custody of the jailed BSP MLA by April 8.
In a letter to his UP counterpart Awanish Kumar Awasthi on April 3, Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Anurag Agarwal wrote, “…It is, hence, requested that suitable arrangements for transfer of the undertrial prisoner, Mukhtar Ansari, from District Jail, Roopnagar (Ropar) may be made; and the said transfer/handover be effected.”
He added, “It is also mentioned that Mukhtar Ansari has certain medical conditions and same may be kept in mind while making arrangements for his transport from Roopnagar District Jail to Banda in Uttar Pradesh.”
In an order on March 26, the Supreme Court had directed the Punjab government to hand over Ansari’s custody to the Uttar Pradesh government in two weeks.
Meanwhile, UP Police announced that a special team had been formed to bring Mukhtar Ansari from Punjab to Banda district jail.
ADG (Prayagraj) Prem Prakash said the team would leave for Punjab from Chitrakoot on Monday. “We will have a fleet of vehicles for protection, and we will ensure that no one contacts him on the way to UP. We have made all preparations to bring him back,” said the ADG, who is supervising the exercise.
Officials said special security arrangements were in place at Banda district jail. “We have increased the security at the jail and will keep a close watch on the visitors,” said a senior official.
On Saturday, a five-member UP Police team had left for Punjab to investigate the “fake documents” of an ambulance used to ferry Ansari from Ropar jail to a court in Mohali on March 31. The ambulance had a Barabanki number plate.
Ansari, a history-sheeter in UP Police records, is currently in Ropar jail in connection with an extortion case. The Punjab Police had brought him over in 2019 from a UP prison based on a production warrant issued about a fortnight after the registration of the extortion case.
Last October, UP BJP MLA Alka Rai, the wife of former legislator Krishna Nand Rai, shot off a letter to Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as Ansari continued to remain in Punjab. She accused the Congress government in Punjab of helping Ansari, an accused in the murder of her husband in 2005, evade court appearances in UP.
The Yogi Adityanath government then moved the Supreme Court seeking Ansari’s custody and alleged that the Punjab government was“shamelessly protecting” the BSP MLA 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.
The cases against the five-time MLA are lodged at various police stations in different UP districts, including Lucknow, Ghazipur and Mau. Ansari has been acquitted in most of these cases.
Meanwhile, Ghazipur MP Afzal Ansari urged the court to review his brother’s security and the medical facilities available in the Banda prison. “The safety of Mukhtar Ansari, after he comes to the Uttar Pradesh jail, is that of the judiciary and the Yogi Adityanath government. The court should monitor the safety and medical facilities given to Mukhtar Ansari… The safety of the life of any citizen is the responsibility of the government. This duty increases by twice when the prisoner is in judicial custody and by four times when the state government files a petition in the Supreme Court saying that the hearing of the case is getting affected,” PTI quoted Afzal as saying.
— With PTI INPUTS