A 150-member team of the Uttar Pradesh Police headed to Punjab on Monday to bring back jailed gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is facing trial in over a dozen cases, even as his family said they will move the court for ensuring his security in prison as a “conspiracy” may be hatched against him.
Punjab’s home department had asked the UP authorities to take custody of Ansari, BSP MLA from Mau, at the Rupnagar jail on or before April 8 following a March 26 Supreme Court order, on the UP government’s plea, to transfer him to Banda prison within two weeks.
Senior police officials said a 150-member team, including a company of the Provincial Armed Constabulary, equipped with sophisticated weapons left from Banda on Monday morning to bring back Ansari from Punjab.
“The process of eliminating the mafia has begun,” Uttar Pradesh minister Sidharth Nath Singh told reporters and alleged that the Punjab Government made every effort to stall the handover of Ansari but it had to “bow before the commitment” of the Yogi Adityanath government.
He asserted that stringent action will be taken against criminals, irrespective of their religion or caste.
The UP Police said that Ansari, who has been lodged in Rupnagar prison since January 2019 in connection with an extortion case, is facing 52 cases in UP and elsewhere, and 15 of them are in the trial stage.
In a crackdown on his gang, the police have arrested 96 criminals and so far seized, freed or demolished property worth Rs 192 crore linked to the MLA and his associates.
Acting Superintendent of the Banda District Jail Pramod Tiwari said all arrangements have been made in Barrack Number-15 for Ansari and no other prisoner can access the area.
“Three prison guards will be deployed inside the barrack,” he said.
In its letter, the Punjab Home Department had asked the Uttar Pradesh additional chief secretary (Home) for suitable arrangements to be made for Ansari”s transfer as he suffered from certain medical conditions.
Additional Director General of Police, Allahabad Zone, Prem Prakash had on Sunday said that an ambulance will be part of the convoy going to Punjab.
Ansari”s family member have been saying that they fear for his life if he is brought to Uttar Pradesh. His wife Afshan Ansari had claimed that he may be killed in a fake encounter and had demanded adequate security for him.
On Monday, Ansari”s brother and BSP MP from Ghazipur Afzal Ansari expressed apprehension that a conspiracy may be hatched against him in UP jail.
“The Ansari family is worried following the media reports and statements made by BJP leaders. However, the Ansari family is not feeling afraid.
“Justice is still alive in the country. I am confident that justice will prevail and Mukhtar will be proved innocent in all cases,” he said.
The MP said that he is proud of the independent judiciary in the country and was confident that nothing untoward will happen to his brother.
“A conspiracy may be hatched against Mukhtar Ansari in UP jail. We will approach the judiciary on the issue of security for Mukhtar. When a problem is being created by the state government, then there is no option except seeking the shelter of the judiciary,” Afzal Ansari said.
Meanwhile, in another twist, an ambulance used to ferry Ansari to a Mohali court in Punjab on Wednesday was found abandoned outside a roadside eatery on the Chandigarh-Nangal highway in Punjab”s Rupnagar district, police had said on Sunday.
The police said they have taken the vehicle in their custody.
Amid tight security arrangements, Ansari had been taken to the court on a wheelchair on that day.
A case was registered in Uttar Pradesh”s Barabanki after the documents of the ambulance were found to be fake.
The Uttar Pradesh Police, officials said on Sunday, has set up a special investigation team to further probe into the issue of fake documents of the ambulance.
Amid a row over the issue, a Punjab police official had clarified that an inmate can be transported in a private ambulance on medical grounds and the cost of conveyance has to be borne by the prisoner.
Additional Director General of Police Prashant Kumar in a statement here on Monday said that there are 52 cases registered against Ansari in UP and other states.
Of these, 15 are in the trial stage, the statement said, adding that prosecution work will be completed soon and the guilty will face punishment.
“Mukhtar (Ansari) had committed heinous crimes in eastern Uttar Pradesh including the murder of policemen. He had formed a gang of criminals and shooters in the state.
“He had also established contacts with the gang of Sahabuddin in Bihar to establish a strong crime network and empire,” the statement said and added that Ansari established his hold over the coal market and contracts in eastern UP.
The UP government has initiated strong action against Mukhtar Ansari and his aides by dismantling their empire under the Gangster Act.
“The estimated worth of properties of Mukhtar Ansari and his aides seized/demolished/freed stands at over Rs 192 crore,” the statement said.
As many as 96 criminals of his gang have been arrested. Action under the Gangster Act has been initiated against 75 criminals. Arms licences of 72 criminals of this gang have been cancelled or suspended. Action has also been initiated against seven contractors of this gang, the statement said.
The Supreme Court recently directed the Punjab government to hand over the custody of Ansari to the Uttar Pradesh police, saying it was being denied on trivial grounds under the guise of medical issues.
The top court had also said a convict or an undertrial 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.