‘My father didn’t die of cardiac arrest, he was institutionally murdered’ — Mukhtar Ansari’s son spills the beans


  • April 5, 2024
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Even before his death, Mukhtar’s family has been alleging that he was being fed with “slow poison”. The deceased had also petitioned in a trial court in Barabanki through his counsel, alleging the same. 

 

Groundxero | April 5, 2024

By Anwar ST

 

Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh): Former MLA Mukhtar Ansari, who represented eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Mau constituency in the state assembly for five consecutive terms from from 1996 till 2017, did not die of “cardiac arrest” (as being claimed), but “institutionally murdered by jail administration on the instructions of mafia dons Brijesh Singh and Tribhuwan Singh who enjoy the blessings of the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)”, alleged his youngest son Umar Ansari — a day after laying his father to rest at his family’s ancestral graveyard (the Kali Bagh burial ground) in Ghazipur on March 30.

 

Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in cases related to the murder of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai and obtaining arms licence based on forged documents, Mukhtar was lodged in Banda prison and breathed his last on March 29 at the town’s Rani Durgawati Medical College and Hospital.

 

Over the course of the past year, Mukhtar was found guilty by trial courts in over seven different cases. He was sentenced to six years and five months in prison by a Varanasi court on December 15, 2023, in a 1997 case wherein he was accused of criminal intimidation. In addition, a Varanasi court sentenced him to life in prison in June, the same year, for the murder of Awadesh Rai, the brother of Congress state president Ajay Rai, and for kidnapping a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in connection with Rai’s murder in 2005. 

 

‘It wasn’t a natural death, but a planned murder’

 

On March 28, the former lawmaker was declared to have died of “cardiac arrest” after he was rushed to the hospital from the prison. He was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the wee hours two days before his death after he was found lying on the floor outside a jail toilet following vomiting.

He was complaining of abdominal ache, constipation and unease. However, he was discharged the evening after being declared “fit” and “stable”.

 

Even before his death, Mukhtar’s family has been alleging that he was being fed with “slow poison”. The deceased had also petitioned in a trial court in Barabanki through his counsel, alleging the same. 

 

His postmortem report, however, ruled out the allegation and reiterated the “cardiac arrest”.

“He himself had said in his application to the court: ‘I was being served food contaminated with poison due to which my health is deteriorating, and I feel as if I am going to die’. My father was not such a weak person that he would complain that he would die. He was a fit man. He was 6 ‘6-feet tall, weighed 90 kg and used to workout for two hours everyday,” said Umar.

 

He said he is not levelling the allegation, but the person who was poisoned to death had himself filed the complaint with courts, and it’s on record, which can be independently verified. 

 

“On the night of March 19, he was given poison through food. He complained about the same on the morning of March 21 in three different courts — MP/MLA courts in Banda, Barabanki and Azamgarh — while appearing through video link from the prison,” he said. 

 

Three days after he formally lodged the complaint with the court, a jailer and two deputy jailers were suspended. 

 

“We came to know from the media that the administrative action was initiated against them for being negligent while taking my father to the court for physical appearance,” he said and asked why the penal action was for when his father was not brought to the court for the past one year. 

 

On April 10, 2023, Mukhtar was last produced physically before any court. It was an MP/MLA court in Lucknow. Since then he attended proceedings in different courts of the state through video conferencing only from jail.

 

“It’s crystal clear that the honourable court found merit in my father’s application and hence the action was taken,” he speculated.

 

Mukhtar was allegedly eliminated, claimed Umar, because if the courts had taken cognizance of the complaint, jail officials would have come under the scanner of the judiciary. 

 

“And to save themselves, the officers would have to reveal the conspiracy and name everyone — right from the state administration to the polity — who were involved. They would have to reveal everything — who gave the poison and on whose instruction and what kind of the life-threatening substance was used?” he continued.

Umar suspected that his father administered thallium — which becomes toxic if its concentration level in blood rises above 200 µg/L. Its exposure causes difficulty walking, various involuntary movement disorders, permanent neurological damages before resulting in deaths.

 

Recalling his last conversation with his father, he said, “He (Mukhtar) had told us that he felt as if his intestine was being severed. He vomited soon after having the meal after breaking fast. He was unable to discharge urine and stool and had flatus. He had stomach gas and unease. According to him, he had suddenly become so weak that he was unable to walk even a few steps.”

His health deteriorated so much that he was admitted to the hospital in “serious conditions” in the wee hours on March 26 (at 3.55 a.m. as per a health bulletin).

 

At 4 a.m. the same day, Umar said, the Muhammadabad police knocked at their doors — popularly called ‘phatak’ (a huge entrance gate in literal terms), which remains open round the clock for everyone to come and seek help — in Ghazipur with a radiogram from the Banda jail superintendent.

 

Referring to a Supreme Court order dated January 16, 2024 in which a division bench of justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Misra had directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to make “elaborate security arrangements” and proper medical care for Mukhtar, the family was informed that he had fallen gravely unwell and, as per the apex court’s direction, had been admitted to the ICU in the Banda medical college. 

 

Umar and his uncle Afzal Ansari (Mukhtar’s elder brother), who is a member of Parliament from Ghazipur, was asked to reach the hospital as soon as possible.

“I was in Delhi at that time and Afzal baba was at home. We both left for Banda. He reached at around 12:30 p.m. and I at 1 p.m. He was allowed to meet, but not me despite the fact that the names of both of us were on the list of visitors,” he alleged.

 

“I kept urging the superintendent of police to permit me as well, but my repeated plea landed on a deaf ear. I was told he has orders from above not to let me in. I requested them to allow me to at least catch a glimpse of my father from outside the ICU, but it was also turned down,” he alleged, continuing that he did not find it right to get involved because at least they were showing “the least degree of humanity” and by getting his father admitted for treatment. 

 

He said he left Banda at around 3 p.m. without meeting his father. At 6 pm, according to him, he learnt that Mukhtar had been discharged and sent back to the jail after doctors declared him fit and stable.

 

“I don’t know how he would have spent the last two days of life in his jail cell in so much pain. At around 10 pm on march 28, we received a shocking news, which we were neither expecting nor prepared for. He was no more,” said Umar with a long pause to unsuccessfully control his emotions.

 

Wiping tears rolling down his face, he began and narrated, “His stomach was so distended that the doctors who were performing autopsy advised not to slant his body to check whether there were any marks of injury on the back, saying there were possibilities for the stomach to burst.”

 

He asked, “Do you still think he died of cardiac arrest? Not at all. And I am saying this based on extremely reliable inputs and prevailing circumstances that it is not a natural death but a planned murder.”

Asked to elaborate, he said, “We still have a few reliable well-wishers in the system who have informed us a lot, but I cannot share the specific information, which we have got, keeping their safety and security in mind. Without mentioning any name, all I can say is that my accusation is based on facts. I reiterate, ‘This is not a natural death but an extra-judicial killing’.”

 

Asked if it is a “planned murder” as he is alleging, who, according to him, hatched the conspiracy and carried it out, a prompt reply came, “Mafia don Brijesh Singh, a co-accused of Dawood Ibrahim, and mafia don Tribhuwan Singh.”

 

“Without mincing words, I would say both of them are directly involved in this murder, and they have blessings of top notch leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ruling the state as well as the Centre. The top leadership of the incumbent party, the police administration and prison authorities are hand in gloves in this conspiracy and subsequent killing,” he alleged.

 

Getting the poison delivered in jail, mixing it with the food to be served and administering it again and again till his death cannot be the handiwork of one person, he said.

 

“Brijesh Singh directly benefited from this murder because my father had lodged an FIR (first information report) against him for carrying out a murderous attack. He had to testify in court 22 years after the case was registered. On July 15, 2001, my father was going to his constituency (Mau) from Ghazipur along with his supporters. On his way, his convoy was fired upon using automatic rifles, including an AK47, by Brijesh Singh and Tribhuvan Singh near Usri Chatti. While my father and his nine associates suffered grievous injuries in the deadly attack, three others were killed,” he said. 

 

Mukhtar was the complainant as well as an injured witness of the case. Twenty-two years after the incident, trial began in the case only last year. Seven witnesses have testified in the court. Following many postponements, Mukhtar had to get his statement recorded before the trial court anytime soon.

 

“All the testimonies, which have been recorded so far, are against Brijesh Singh. The witnesses have clearly told the court that Brijesh sprayed bullets on them with the intention of killing. All possible attempts were made to threaten the witnesses and make them turn hostile. When they refused to back off, a new FIR was filed in the same case after 22 years against my father and all the witnesses. Shailendra Rai, the father of one of the victims, Manoj Rai, who was killed in the gun battle. So, the victims were turned into accused,” he said.

 

That is a “framed-up” case, Umar said, the complainant has said that his son was abducted from Sagrao village Bihar’s Buxar district by Mukhtar Ansari and brought to Ghazipur. 

 

“My father, according to the case, killed him at our residence in Ghazipur. Later, he took his dead body to Usri Chatti and fired several rounds in the air to show that Rai had been killed in a staged firing. In the process, my father fired at himself and his associates, including a government personal security officer (PSO), with his own firearms. This cooked up story was made after 22 years when the trial in the original case began. Doesn’t it sound flimsy?” he said.

 

He said if there is delay in filing an FIR, the investigators have to explain valid reasons behind it before the court. Such FIRs are called “ante-time FIR”. He said courts on different occasions have cleared off the so-called accused. It’s an established fact. “In this case, the FIR is being filed against my father after 22 years and that too after the trial began,” he wondered.

 

“What would have happened if Mukhtar Ansari, who was not a coward to withdraw, had testified in the court against Brijesh Singh, who of late has been in the good books of the incumbents? Everyone knows it,” said Umar. 

 

Trying to cement his allegation that Brijesh is poster boy of the incumbents, who allegedly want to save him at all cost, he asked how it is possible that the mafia don’s wife was elected as an MLC (member of the Legislative Council, upper house of state assemblies) from Varanasi, which is Lok Sabha constituency of none other than Prime Minister Modi.

 

She defeated the candidate of the BJP — the party of PM Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 

 

“Does all this happen in isolation? No. It was made possible by Modi, (Union Home Minister Amit) Shah, the Uttar Pradesh government and its machinery colluding to please Brijesh Singh,” he alleged.

 

A saga of cases

 

The UP’s Adityanath government, which came to power in 2017, unleashed the police and administrative forces against Mukhtar, his family and his supporters. It filed many criminal cases against him, his sons, including incumbent MLA Abbas Ansari, his brother and MP Afzal Ansari and other acquaintances, branding him a “gangster” and the leader of the gang IS191. 

 

The government claims it has taken possession of, demolished and released the Mukhtar family’s property worth crores from “illegal occupation”.

 

As of December 2023, the police arrested 186 people and revoked 175 weapon licences. They also shot five persons allegedly connected to Mukhtar in controversial encounters and filed lawsuits against 292 people. Around 64 of his purported associates were booked under the Gangsters Act and six under the National Security Act (NSA). Additionally, 60 of his alleged affiliates were expelled from their districts.

 

The media too described Mukhtar as a “gangster-turned-politician”.

 

When asked about the same, Umar said it is always mentioned that so many cases were filed, but no one talks about the merit of the lawsuits and under what circumstances they were registered.

 

“First case against me was registered when I was not even born. I committed the crime, but I was non-existent in the world. The second case is when I was four years old. The allegation is that I (as a four-year-old kid) went to the office of the district magistrate in shorts and threatened him. And the DM got so scared of me that he registered a government land in my name,” he said.


The third case, according to Umar, was filed against him under Section 153(A) because he allegedly seconded his elder brother Abbas Ansari by clapping when the latter allegedly made a controversial statement, reportedly threatening government officials at a public rally in Mau district during the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.


Abbas, who won the polls as a candidate of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP)-Samajwadi Party alliance, had allegedly said during the rally if the Samajwadi Party (SP) and its alliance partners formed the government in the state, no government officials would be transferred for the first six months as he had a score to settle with them.


“According to the police, I encouraged him in his alleged crime by standing with him on the stage and clapping,” he added.


The Mau MLA is presently lodged in Kasganj jail in connection with a money laundering case. He could not attend the funeral of his father because of not getting parole.


He said the fourth case is in connection with speeding. 


“As part of a convoy of my brother, who was going for the election campaigning, I have been accused of driving my vehicle at such a high speed that it could have caused accidents and killed people. When the court asked the prosecution whether there is any video evidence, which could establish the allegation that the vehicle was speeding beyond the permissible limit, the police replied the speed was so high that they could not do its video recording,” he said.


The fifth case, according to Umar, against him is that he was accompanying his brother Abbas during the latter’s victory procession for which the permission was not sought.


The sixth case, which was later quashed by the Allahabad High Court, was related to the use of allegedly unauthorised vehicles during Abbas’s election campaigning. Interestingly, the process of registering the vehicles to be used in canvassing had begun two days after the FIR was filed against him. 

 

‘They snatched our roof’


An emotional Umar said they “snatched” their roof of protection by “killing” his father. “Father is like a roof over our life who protects us from every troubles, which come in life. Father is like a shadow, which has been eliminated,” he said. 


At this testing time, he said, his elder brother is also not with him. “He was denied parole to attend the last rites. Well, there is no hope of any kind of mercy from them. If SC had opened that day, my brother would have been granted parole,” he added.


Because of the absence of his brother, he said, he is feeling lonely. “Even my mother is not with me,” he said.


Umar’s mother Afsha Ansari, who too could not see her husband for the last time as she is absconding, is an accused in several criminal cases. She faces six cases, with a reward of Rs 75,000 for information leading to her arrest. The reward was increased last year from Rs 50,000.


Charges against her include cheating, forgery, theft, criminal trespass, damage to public property and activities under the Gangsters Act. First case was registered against her in 2019. Subsequent cases were registered in different police stations in Ghazipur district. She was declared a fugitive by Mau police in 2022 after she failed to appear in cases against her. A lookout notice was issued against her last year.


While concluding, he quoted a standanza of a poetry, “Mar kar bhi nahin marte, hum jagah badalte hain; khwab dekhte rehna tum, hamen mitane ka (We don’t die even after death, we only shift from one place to another; you keep dreaming, you can destroy us).”

 

Judicial probe begins


A magisterial investigation into Mukhtar’s death in judicial custody has begun. Civil Judge Senior Division Garima Singh and Additional District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar inspected the Banda prison for about two hours on April 3.


They examined the CCTV footage and recorded statements of the jail officials.


The deceased solitary barrack (number 16) was opened in front of the judicial commission, and everything was checked carefully. They also examined the video recordings of days prior to the incident. 


The team checked the jail register, wherein every entry and exit is manually recorded. His medical treatment-related documents were reviewed. 


The statements of the deputy jailer and warders who were on duty at that time were also recorded. Following two hours of the probe, the team finally left the jail premise.

 

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