NEW DELHI, June 5: The Varanasi MP MLA court on Monday sentenced gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari to life imprisonment for the murder of Congress leader Awadhesh Rai 32 years ago. He was also fined ₹ 1,00,000.
Awadhesh Rai, the brother of Congress leader Ajay Rai, now a regional chief of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead on August 3, 1991, at the gate of his Lahurabir residence. A case in the matter was registered against Ansari and five others. The 61-year old Mukhtar Ansari is already in Banda district jail serving another sentence.
Sentence in the Awadhesh Rai murder case was Ansari’s sixth conviction in the 61 criminal cases pending against him, including 20 other on-going cases pending trial in the courts in various parts of UP.
Ansari has been charged with the murder of Awadhesh Rai when he was starting to gain political prominence. Awadhesh Rai, was shot dead outside Ajay Rai’s house in Varanasi. Mukhtar Ansari was not an MLA when he committed the crime. Security was tightened at the court complex ahead of the verdict. Rai had named Mukhtar Ansari, Bhim Singh, former MLA Abdul Kalim, and two others, in the FIR.
Ajay Rai welcomed the judgement and said, “This is the end of our 32-year struggle against a notorious criminal. I, my parents, Awadhesh’s daughter and the whole family kept patience… Governments came and went, and Mukhtar strengthened himself.” “But we did not give up. Because of our lawyers’ efforts, today the court has found Mukhtar guilty in the murder case of my brother,” Rai added.
He asserted that those who stand up to gangsters and fight will get justice. “We received threats. I have been demanding security, and it should be enhanced. If something happens to me, the BJP government will be responsible,” Mr Rai said.
A five-term MLA, Mukhtar Ansari was handed a 10-year jail term in another kidnapping and murder case this April. Several criminal cases — of land grabbing, murder and extortion — are registered against him.
The Varanasi MP MLA court concluded the hearing in the Awadhesh Rai case after final arguments on May 19, reserved its order, and fixed June 5 as the date to deliver it. Mukhtar Ansari won assembly elections five times – 1996, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017. The last three victories came while he was in jail. His son Abbas Ansari won the Uttar Pradesh assembly election from his stronghold Mau Sadar in 2022 from the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP).
Mukhtar Ansari was also accused in what is perhaps the most sensational political murder in Uttar Pradesh’s history. He allegedly killed BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai with an AK-47 rifle in November 2005. As many as 400 bullet shells were reportedly recovered from the spot and 21 bullets were recovered from Rai’s body.
In April, an MP-MLA court in Ghazipur had convicted Ansari and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment under the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act case, lodged at Mohammadabad police station in Ghazipur district in 2007, for the abduction and murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. A fine of ₹ 5 lakh was also imposed on the gangster-politician.
The wife of late Krishnanand Rai had said the rule of mafia has ended in UP and that she has faith in the judiciary. “I believe in the judiciary. Rule of Goondas, Mafias have ended (in the state),” Alka Rai had said.
Earlier in January this year, the police registered a murder case against Mukhtar Ansari in connection with the 2001 ‘Usri Chatti’ gang war incident. A case under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against Ansari at PS Mohammadabad in Ghazipur.
Earlier on January 18, Allahabad High Court dismissed the March 15 order of the Ghazipur MP/MLA Court, which allowed Ansari to be kept in a superior-class jail in Banda. While giving the order, the court had said the order of the special court is without jurisdiction, and gangster, dreaded criminal Bahubali Ansari was not legally entitled to get a superior class in jail.
Earlier on December 15 last year, Ansari and his aide Bhim Singh were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Gangster Court in Ghazipur in five cases related to murder and attempt to murder. The cases include the murder of constable Raghuvansh Singh and a murderous assault on an additional SP of Ghazipur among others.
On September 21, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court convicted Mukhtar Ansari and sentenced him for threatening jailer SK Awasthi and pointing a pistol at him. The case dates to 2003 when Lucknow district prison jailer SK Awasthi lodged an FIR saying that he was threatened to order a search of the people who came to meet Ansari in prison.
On September 23, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court sentenced him to five years in a case registered in 1999 under the Gangster Act. The court had also imposed a fine of ₹ 50,000 on Mukhtar Ansari in this 23-year-old case.