Gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari and his brother, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP Afzal Ansari, have been sentenced to 10 years and four years in prison, respectively, in a 2007 Gangsters Act case. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Mukhtar and Rs 1 lakh on Afzal. The verdict could lead to Afzal losing his Lok Sabha membership as per the Representation of the People Act.
The court of Additional Sessions Judge/First MP-MLA Court Durgesh pronounced the sentence on Saturday. Afzal was produced in court while his brother Mukhtar participated in the proceedings via video conferencing.
Mukhtar Ansari is a notorious gangster who has been accused of several criminal activities, including murder and extortion. He was extradited to Uttar Pradesh from Punjab in April 2021, where he was lodged in a jail in Ropar district since January 2019. He was wanted in several cases, including the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai in 2005.
Afzal Ansari, on the other hand, is a sitting MP from Ghazipur parliamentary constituency. He has been accused of providing support to his brother Mukhtar in his criminal activities. The Gangsters Act case against the Ansari brothers was filed in 2007 in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh.
The verdict is seen as a major setback for the Ansari brothers and the BSP. Mukhtar Ansari has been a major player in the politics of eastern Uttar Pradesh and has been associated with several political parties, including the BSP, the Samajwadi Party, and the Congress. He has won several elections from the Mau constituency and was once considered a strong contender for the post of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The sentencing of Afzal Ansari could also have an impact on the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The BSP, which has been struggling to retain its support base in the state, had fielded Afzal from the Ghazipur constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the hope of consolidating its Dalit-Muslim vote bank. However, Afzal lost to the BJP’s Manoj Sinha by a margin of over 3 lakh votes.
The verdict is expected to send a strong message to other politicians with criminal backgrounds. The Supreme Court has been pushing for a clean-up of Indian politics and has been urging political parties to refrain from fielding candidates with criminal records. In March this year, the apex court had directed political parties to publish details of criminal cases against their candidates in the media and on their websites.
The sentencing of the Ansari brothers is a step in the right direction towards cleaning up Indian politics. The judiciary has once again shown that it will not hesitate to take strong action against those who try to subvert the law and order of the country. The verdict is also a reminder to political parties that they cannot continue to shield criminals and expect to remain relevant in Indian politics.