How did Mukhtar Ansari, gangster-turned-politician die? “Food was poisoned,” brother claims

In March 2021, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea from the Uttar Pradesh government, ordered the Punjab government to hand over Ansari’s custody to Uttar Pradesh

Mukhtar Ansari, a known figure in the political and criminal circles, passed away in a hospital in Banda, Uttar Pradesh. His brother, Afzal, a Member of Parliament from Ghazipur, claimed that Mukhtar was slowly poisoned while in jail.

Afzal stated to the press that Mukhtar had been given a toxic substance in his food while in jail. This was not the first instance; about 40 days prior, he was also given poison. His health deteriorated after he was allegedly poisoned again on March 19 and March 22. However, these allegations have been refuted by the prison authorities.

Other family members have also accused the jail authorities of slowly poisoning Ansari. Umar Ansari, Mukhtar’s son, stated that he was not informed about his father’s condition by the administration and only found out through the media. He also mentioned that he was not allowed to meet his father two days prior. He reiterated the family’s claim of slow poisoning and expressed their intention to seek legal recourse.

Following his death, Mukhtar Ansari’s body was sent for autopsy at Banda Medical College Hospital.

Prior to his death, Ansari was admitted to a hospital in Banda after complaining of stomach pain. He was later transferred to Rani Durgawati Medical College in Uttar Pradesh. He was brought back to the same hospital in an unconscious state on Thursday, where he was declared dead due to a heart attack.

Mukhtar Ansari, 63, was a prominent figure in Uttar Pradesh politics, having been elected as an MLA from Mau Sadar seat five times, twice as a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate. He wielded significant influence in his hometown, Ghazipur. He had been in custody in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab since 2005 and had more than 60 criminal cases pending against him.

Mukhtar Ansari
Image : Hindustan Times

Since September 2022, Ansari had been convicted in eight cases by various courts in Uttar Pradesh and was serving his sentence in Banda jail.

Mukhtar Ansari’s dual career in politics and crime

Mukhtar Ansari embarked on a life of crime at the young age of 15, resulting in 65 criminal charges against him. Despite his criminal record, Ansari was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) five times before succumbing to a heart attack in a Banda hospital.

Born in 1963 to a prominent family, Ansari turned to crime to make a name for himself and his gang in the state’s expanding government contract mafia. His first encounter with law enforcement occurred in 1978 when he was charged with criminal intimidation at Ghazipur’s Saidpur Police Station.

By 1986, Ansari had become a notorious figure in the contract mafia, and a murder case was filed against him at Ghazipur’s Muhammad Police Station. Over the next ten years, he was implicated in at least 14 more serious cases, solidifying his reputation as a criminal.

In 2012, Ansari founded the Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) and was once again victorious in Mau. He won the seat again in 2017, but in 2022, he stepped aside to allow his son, Abbas Ansari, to win the seat as a Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party candidate.

From 2005 until his death, Ansari was incarcerated in various jails in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Since 2005, he had been charged in 28 criminal cases, including murder, and seven cases under the UP’s Gangster Act.

Since September 2022, Ansari had been convicted in eight criminal cases and was awaiting trial in 21 others. Earlier this month, a Varanasi MP/MLA court sentenced Ansari to life imprisonment and fined him Rs 2.02 lakh for fraudulently obtaining an arms license nearly four decades ago.

This was the eighth time in the past 18 months that Ansari had been sentenced by various Uttar Pradesh courts, and the second time he had received a life sentence.

On December 15, 2023, a Varanasi MP/MLA court sentenced Ansari to five years and six months for threatening Mahavir Prasad Rungta, who had withdrawn from a case involving the kidnapping and murder of BJP leader and coal trader Nand Kishore Rungta on January 22, 1997.

A Ghazipur MP/MLA court sentenced Ansari to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 5 lakh on October 27, 2023, in a Gangster Act case filed against him in 2010.

On June 5, 2023, a Varanasi MP/MLA sentenced Ansari to life imprisonment for the murder of Awadesh Rai, the older brother of former Congress MLA and current UP Congress president Ajay Rai. Awadesh Rai was gunned down outside his house in the Lahurabir area of Varanasi on August 3, 1991.

On April 29, 2023, a Ghazipur MP/MLA court sentenced Ansari to 10 years in prison for the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court sentenced Ansari to five years of rigorous imprisonment on September 23, 2022, in a Gangster Act case filed against him in 1999 at Lucknow’s Hazratganj Police Station, and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000.

On December 15, 2022, the Ghazipur MP/MLA court sentenced Ansari to 10 years in prison and imposed a fine of 5 lakh each in two separate Gangster Act cases filed against him in 1996 and 2007.

Ansari’s first conviction in the last 13 months was handed down by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. He was sentenced to seven years in prison on September 21, 2022, for threatening the jailor of the Lucknow district jail in 2003.

The Uttar Pradesh government had to petition the Supreme Court to transfer Ansari back to the state from Ropar jail in Punjab. Ansari, then a BSP MLA, was incarcerated in the Ropar jail in January 2019 in relation to an extortion case and remained there for over two years.

In March 2021, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea from the Uttar Pradesh government, ordered the Punjab government to hand over Ansari’s custody to Uttar Pradesh, stating that it was being denied on trivial grounds under the pretext of medical issues.

The court also stated 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 that the courts should not be helpless bystanders when the rule of law is being challenged with impunity.

Since 2020, Ansari’s gang had been under intense scrutiny from the police, who either seized or demolished illegal property worth Rs 608 crore belonging to the gang. The police also halted illegal business, contracts, or tenders worth over Rs 215 crore associated with the gang during this period.

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Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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