Gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s conviction in the 32-year-old Awadhesh Rai murder has put an end to his delaying tactics of disrupting the court proceedings or influencing witnesses or turning them hostile to buy time, according to experts and senior cops with the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police.
Evading conviction, Ansari served as an MLA from Mau for five consecutive terms from 1995 to 2022, and managed to retain his assembly membership for nearly 27 years.
Officials further said that in most cases in lower courts, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence, whereas in a few cases, witnesses either turned hostile or ended up giving a favourable statement. In cases where government officials were witnesses, they either retired during the prolonged trials or didn’t turn up in the court on the pretext of health issues.
On August 3, 1991, Congress leader Awadhesh Rai was shot dead outside his brother and former MLA Ajay Rai’s house in Varanasi. Ajay Rai named Ansari, Bhim Singh and former MLA Abdul Kalim in the first information report (FIR). On Monday, a court in Varanasi sentenced Ansari to life imprisonment. Rai called the judgment an outcome of patience and his consistent efforts.
“In several instances in the past three decades, Ansari tried to delay the court proceedings to evade conviction or imprisonment,” said Prashant Kumar, special director general (SDG), law and order, UP Police.
“Be it in the Awadhesh Rai murder or the September 2022 conviction, when the Allahabad High Court overturned the local court’s order to acquit him and awarded him a seven-year jail term for threatening then jailor of Lucknow district jail SK Awasthi in 2003, his tactics seems to have turned futile. In fact, the court proceedings were expedited and he was also convicted and sentenced in three other criminal cases,” said Kumar.
“The tactic can be also gauged from the fact that in most cases, Ansari was convicted after more than two or three decades. In Rai’s murder, he was convicted after 32 years. Charges were framed against him in another 1997 case registered at Bhelupur police station, Varanasi, (after 24 years) on August 24, 2021. In another case registered at Jagdishpura police station of Agra in 1999, charges could only be framed (after 23 years) on October 8, 2022. Also, in a case registered against him with Alambagh police station of Lucknow in 2000, the charges were framed (after 21 years) on March 28, 2021,” the officials further said.
Despite the spontaneous attempts of Ansari’s legal team to save him for decades using lacunae in the judicial system, his empire crashed after the charges were framed against him in several old cases.
At least 25 more cases are pending against Ansari, who is currently lodged in Banda jail. He did not contest the 2022 assembly polls and handed over the baton to his elder son Abbas Ansari.
While Abbas was elected as an MLA from the same constituency in 2022, he is lodged in the Kasganj jail in a disproportionate assets case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).