They constructed their empires on the intersection of crime and politics, dominating their bastions in Uttar Pradesh with cash and muscle energy. Their fiefdom invoked concern amongst commoners and their names impressed awe amongst followers. However all that’s previously.
Lodged in jails outdoors the state, Atiq Ahmad and Mukhtar Ansari, the once-feared gangsters clad in white kurta-pyjama, are actually mere spectators to the gradual implosion of their empires.
Their males are hounded by police; their gun licenses are being cancelled and their properties seized; and their clout is diminishing.
For the bahubalis (because the musclemen had been referred to as), what stays is a previous of prominence, one that’s constructed by a posh net of crime and politics however, nonetheless, is a crucial chapter in UP’s social panorama.
ERODING SUPPORT BASE
Ahmad, now 60, is claimed to have dedicated his first homicide in 1979. And there was no trying again for him on the planet of crime.
A five-time legislator and a one-time parliamentarian, Ahmad has 96 felony circumstances in opposition to him. He has been named in circumstances of homicide, abductions, unlawful mining, extortion, intimidation and fraud, amongst others.
He began calling the photographs within the Allahabad (now Prayagraj) area after the dying of his rival, Shaukat Ilahi, in a police encounter in 1989.
By the way, he made his debut in consultant politics in the identical 12 months, profitable the Allahabad West meeting seat as an impartial candidate.
Not solely Allahabad, Ahmad was capable of make his presence felt from Kaushambi to Chitrakoot and from Lucknow to Kanpur.
He retained the Allahabad West seat twice (1991 and 1993) as an impartial candidate. In 1996, he contested on a Samajwadi Social gathering (SP) ticket and gained. He joined the Apna Dal in 1999 and gained the seat once more in 2002.
In 2003, Ahmad returned to the SP. In 2004, he turned a parliamentarian from the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency, a seat as soon as held by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
“Atiq Ahmad was an vital chief of the get together and served as its UP president,” Pallavi Patel, the performing nationwide president of the Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), mentioned, commenting on his stint within the get together.
She added that the get together fashioned by her late father, Sone Lal Patel, adopted the trail of issue-based politics and took choices that it felt served the frequent man. “I’m not conscious of any efforts by him within the latest previous to rejoin the get together. Even now if he approaches the get together, the get together management will look into it and determine on its advantage.”
Ahmad’s downfall started in 2007 through the Bahujan Samaj Social gathering (BSP)’s rule, when police mounted strain on him and his brother, Ashraf. They ultimately surrendered in 2008, however had been launched in 2013, a 12 months after the SP got here again to energy.
Ahmad contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Shravasti however misplaced. Steadily, variations surfaced between Ahmad and the SP. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav prevented him on stage at a public assembly in Kaushambi in Might 2016.
Dan Bahadur ‘Madhur’, the long-serving Prayagraj district spokesperson of the SP, mentioned his get together distanced itself from Ahmad after Akhilesh Yadav took over as its nationwide president in January 2017. “Even in the present day, we’re following the identical path of unpolluted politics,” he mentioned.
Ahmad was arrested in February 2017 from the Naini space in Prayagraj in reference to an assault on workers of a state college on the fag finish of the SP’s rule. The motion got here after the Allahabad excessive court docket pulled up the police for his or her failure to arrest him.
However Ahmad’s political ambitions weren’t over. From jail, he filed nomination from the Varanasi constituency in opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 and obtained 855 votes.
In June 2019, Ahmad was shifted to an Ahmedabad jail on the orders of the Supreme Courtroom.
Again house, his youthful brother, Ashraf, is behind the bars after his arrest in July 2020. His eldest son, Umar, is absconding. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has introduced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for data resulting in Umar’s arrest. Lots of Ahmad’s males have been put behind the bars and common raids are being carried out to trace down others.
“Some new names might be added to the record of his gang members quickly as many kids joined him lately,” mentioned Civil Traces circle officer Brajnarayan Singh, who’s a part of the operation in opposition to Ahmad and his gang.
The administration has cancelled 30-odd gun licenses linked to Ahmad and his males. At current, he’s left with only one gun license — that of a pistol, in keeping with Abhishek Dixit, the Prayagraj senior superintendent of police.
The Prayagraj district administration not too long ago ordered the attachment of seven of his immovable properties value round Rs 60 crore. One other 17 properties have been recognized for motion whilst 16 companies linked to Ahmad and his gang are below scrutiny.
Of the numerous fees in opposition to him, Ahmad is accused of defending the criminals concerned within the gan-grape of some madrasa college students in 2007. The incident kicked off an enormous protest by locals.
In December 2016, Ahmad and his males allegedly attacked workers of Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Know-how and Sciences (SHUATS) when he couldn’t meet the vice-chancellor to induce him to rethink the expulsion of two college students who had been caught dishonest in exams. A primary data report (FIR) was lodged in opposition to him and he was arrested in February 2017. Earlier, in 2008, he was arrested for the 2005 homicide of BSP legislator Raju Pal however granted bail.
“Lots of his gang members have been arrested and put behind the bars. They’ve been shifted to completely different prisons throughout the state,” Dinesh Kumar Singh, Prayagraj superintendent of police (metropolis), mentioned.
FACING THE HEAT
A BSP legislator, Ansari has been lodged in a jail in Punjab’s Ropar since January 2019; his reign in jap UP is all however over.
His named was linked to a homicide within the late Nineteen Eighties, however there was no proof, mentioned a retired police officer who didn’t wish to be named.
On the daybreak of the 90s, Ansari, who was concerned in property enterprise and contract work, started increasing his community on the planet of crime.
In November 2005, he was linked to the homicide of Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP) legislator Krishnanad Rai; Ansari was in jail when the incident occurred. In July 2019, he was acquitted by a particular CBI court docket.
In 2009, Ansari, who faces 48 FIRs together with 10 homicide circumstances, was once more named within the killing of Ajai Prakash Singh, a contractor, in Mau. This time too, Ansari was acquitted, by a neighborhood court docket in Ghazipur in 2017.
An eyewitness to Singh’s homicide, Ram Singh Maurya, was killed in 2010. Ansari was booked for his alleged position within the incident. The case is below trial in a particular court docket for MPs/MLAs.
He efficiently contested his first meeting election on a BSP ticket from the Mau seat in 1996. Denied the get together’s ticket in 2002, he contested as an impartial and gained the seat in 2002. He retained his seat as an impartial in 2007.
Later that 12 months, he rejoined the BSP and unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary election in opposition to BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi in 2009.
In 2010, Ansari was expelled from the BSP for his alleged felony hyperlinks. He floated the Quami Ekta Dal later that 12 months, contested the 2012 meeting election from Mau as its candidate and gained. In January 2017, he returned to the BSP, which fielded him from Mau within the 2017 meeting elections. Ansari gained once more.
The 57-year-old nonetheless seems to have the help of the native BSP unit. “The motion in opposition to Ansari and his associates is stuffed with political vendetta,” the get together’s Mau president, Rajiv Kumar Raju, mentioned.
At his peak, Ansari was energetic throughout jap UP, together with Varanasi, Mau, Ghazipur, Ballia and Chandauli, and the adjoining areas of neighbouring Bihar.
In January 2019, he was arrested for allegedly making an extortion name to a Mohali-based builder, who lodged a case. Ansari was arrested in that case and shifted to Punjab’s Ropar jail from Banda, the place he was incarcerated in March 2017 in a separate case. He has been behind the bars since 2005 and lodged in a number of jails throughout the state on completely different fees.
In Might 2020, police stepped up operations in opposition to Ansari and his gang. Seventy-two arms licenses linked to him and his accomplices had been suspended, properties value Rs 66 crore seized, and an extortion racket that equipped crores of rupees yearly to Ansari and his associates was busted, in keeping with the police.
“Ninety-seven criminals, together with shooters, henchmen and Ansari’s allies had been arrested through the drive. Motion was taken in opposition to 75 of them below the Gangster Act, and all of them had been despatched to jail,” mentioned Braj Bhushan, further director basic (ADG), Varanasi zone.
These arrested included unlawful merchants of fish (4 gangs), members of the extortion gang, and other people linked to an unlawful slaughter home and two felony gangs.
“Whereas the unlawful fish merchants and the extortion gang supported the Ansari gang financially, the felony gangs used to commit crime on the occasion of the Ansari gang,” Bhushan mentioned.
The latest drive picked up tempo after the registration of a case on June 1 in opposition to Ansari and 5 others in reference to them acquiring 4 arms licenses by furnishing faux addresses 19 years in the past, Mau superintendent of police Anurag Arya mentioned.
“The drive in opposition to hardcore criminals, gangsters, and their gangs might be accelerated additional,” mentioned ADG Bhushan.
“The motion in opposition to the mafia within the state is going on following chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s strict instruction in opposition to criminals,” further chief secretary (house) Awanish Kumar Awasthi mentioned.
Underscoring the powerful stand the BJP authorities has adopted, a tweet by the chief minister’s workplace in Hindi mentioned on Friday: “Be it mafia or every other felony, the UP authorities below the management of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, with its zero-tolerance coverage, is totally dedicated to placing a full-stop in wrongdoings of such components.”
Quickly after coming to the facility in March 2017, the BJP authorities launched a drive in opposition to the hardcore criminals and gangsters, mentioned the Kashi area BJP vice-president, Dharmendra Singh.
“Beneath the drive, motion has been taken in opposition to plenty of criminals and gangsters. The state authorities has a transparent coverage to get rid of crime from the state,” he mentioned.
However the opposition SP is not satisfied; it alleged that the administration was taking selective motion.
“The ill-gotten and illegally acquired properties have to be taken again by the federal government; encroachment on land have to be free of unlawful possession. If the federal government is doing it below a legally sanctioned course of, then no person ought to have any objections. The motion of the federal government should not be primarily based on pick-and-choose mechanism,” mentioned SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi.
“The latest drive in opposition to ill-gotten properties is carried out in a partisan method. No motion is being taken in opposition to those that are within the BJP or its sympathizers with it. Legislation have to be equally utilized to all no matter political affiliations. Criminals are criminals. They don’t change into harmless by becoming a member of the BJP,” he mentioned.