Chandigarh/Banda (UP), Apr 6 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh police on Tuesday took custody of Mukhtar Ansari, leaving with him from Punjab’s Rupnagar jail in a convoy headed 900 km away for a prison in Banda where security has been tightened to hold the gangster-turned-politician.
The transfer of the Bahujan Samaj Party MLA takes place after an order by the Supreme Court, approached by the Uttar Pradesh government which cited the series of criminal cases Ansari faces in his home state.
The BJP-run Uttar Pradesh government has accused the Congress government in Punjab of “shielding” Ansari for several months by not letting the state take custody.
As UP prepared to take charge of the high-profile undertrial, Ansari’s family expressed concerns over his safety while he is brought to the state, and later.
Transfer formalities took about two hours on Tuesday before the MLA from Mau was handed over to the UP team at Rupnagar jail, where he has been lodged since January 2019 in connection with an extortion case.
The police convoy entered Uttar Pradesh through the Eastern Peripheral Expressway in Baghpat around 6.00 pm, Allahabad zone Additional Director General of Police Prem Prakash told PTI.
Ansari was taken from the Rupnagar jail in an ambulance and was also medically examined, a Rupnagar jail official said.
A convoy of seven Uttar Pradesh police vehicles, including an ambulance and an anti-riot Vajra van, left the jail premises at 2:08 pm. The vehicles left through another gate, while most of the media waited outside the main gate.
Strict arrangements were in place with barricades put up by the Punjab Police on the road leading to the jail.
As the convoy took the Ambala road some media vehicles gave chase.
The Uttar Pradesh team had reached Rupnagar police lines at 4.30 a.m. on Tuesday and left for the jail around noon for the transfer.
According to the UP police, Ansari faces 52 cases in the state and elsewhere, and 15 of them are at the trial stage.
Punjab's home department had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to take Ansari’s custody by April 8, following the March 26 Supreme Court order that had set a two-week deadline.
The apex court had noted that Ansari was allegedly involved in cases of murder, attempt to murder, cheating and conspiracy, apart from offences under the Gangsters Act.
It said his custody was being denied to the UP police on trivial grounds under the guise of medical issues.
The SC also said a convict or an undertrial who disobeys the law of the land cannot oppose his transfer from one prison to another and the courts cannot be helpless bystanders when the rule of law is being challenged with impunity.
Ansari will be kept in barrack number 15 of the Banda district jail when he reaches there on Wednesday morning, an official said. Additional police force has been deployed at the jail at the request of prison authorities.
Ansari will be guarded by three security personnel round the clock inside the barrack, the official said on Tuesday.
'Security personnel have been posted inside as well as outside the jail premises,” Banda jailor Pramod Tiwari said.
“In barrack number 15, where Mukhtar Ansari will be kept, arrangements for light, drinking water and cleanliness have been spruced up,' he said.
He said access to the barrack has now been denied to other jail inmates.
The main prison complex gate, which generally remains open, will now be kept closed. Only the jail staff reporting on duty will be allowed in after proper screening, he added.
Details of visitors at hotels and tenants staying in the city too are being gathered, another official said.
Meanwhile, Banda Government Medical College principal Dr Mukesh Kumar Yadav said a panel of four doctors has been formed, following the Supreme Court directions regarding Ansari’s health.
Earlier, a row had also erupted over Ansari being ferried in an ambulance from Rupnagar jail to a Mohali court on March 31 in connection with the 2019 extortion case in Punjab.
A Punjab police official clarified that a jail inmate can be transported in a private ambulance on medical grounds at his own cost.
UP police, meanwhile, launched a probe into the registration of the ambulance, saying fake documents were submitted for the vehicle at that time.
In another twist to case, the same ambulance was found abandoned outside a roadside eatery on Chandigarh-Nangal highway in Rupnagar district on Saturday night. PTI CHS VSD CORR/NAV ANB DV RAX ASH ASH