In UP Police custody, Mukhtar Ansari to reach Banda tomorrow
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday took custody of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Mukhtar Ansari from Punjab's Ropar jail to transfer him to Banda prison. The gangster-turned-politician, who was jailed in Punjab in an extortion case, faces 52 cases in UP, including murder, attempt to murder, cheating, and conspiracy. Ansari's family fears that the transfer may be a ploy to kill him.
All formalities for the transfer of Ansari—an MLA from Uttar Pradesh's Mau—were completed at 2 pm on Tuesday, an official told PTI. Ansari is being taken to Banda in an ambulance. "After completing the journey of about 900 kilometers, he will reach Banda early on Wednesday morning," the official added. He will be kept in barrack number 15 of the Banda district jail.
Ansari would be guarded by three security personnel round-the-clock inside the barrack, an official told PTI. An additional police force has reportedly been deployed at the jail premises. Details of visitors to hotels and tenants living in the city are also being gathered. Banda jailor Pramod Tiwari said access to barrack 15 will be restricted and the jail's main gate will be kept closed.
The transfer came after the Supreme Court directed the Punjab government to hand over Ansari's custody to the UP Police on March 26. The court said the UP Police was being denied custody on trivial grounds under the guise of medical issues. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled UP government had alleged that Ansari was being "shielded" in Indian National Congress-ruled Punjab.
Ansari has remained in Ropar jail since January 2019. According to the UP Police, he faces 52 cases in the state, and 15 of them are at the trial stage. The cases have been lodged in different districts, including Lucknow, Ghazipur, and Mau. After the SC's directive, Punjab's Home Department had asked the UP government to take Ansari's custody by April 8.
Meanwhile, Ansari's brother Afzal expressed concerns about his safety. "In the same Banda jail, he (Mukhtar) was given poison in tea," Afzal told ANI, "We have full faith in the judiciary. We have moved a plea to provide medical facilities to him." Ansari's wife wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, fearing that he may be killed in a fake encounter while being transferred.
Afshan moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the UP Police and jail authorities to ensure that Ansari gets a "free and fair trial" and does not get killed in a fake encounter. The plea cited various threats against Ansari and attempts to murder him.