Mukhtar Ansari

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

I read today on the Internet that the gangster Mukhtar Ansari has been shifted from jail in Punjab to one in Banda, UP. This reminds me of a story about him.

Mukhtar Ansari belonged to a highly respected and well-off family of Ghazipur, UP, who had been landlords. His grandfather had been a president of the Indian National Congress, and his uncle, Mr. Asif Ansari, was a highly respected senior lawyer of the Allahabad High Court in the 1970s and 80s when I was a junior lawyer of the High Court. Later he became a judge of the High Court but died soon thereafter of a heart attack.

Although Mukhtar Ansari came from such a distinguished family, for some reason ( perhaps greed for making quick money ) he turned to a life of crime, and in a few years became one of the most dreaded gangsters of UP.

One day I was sitting with my senior Mr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar in his office when a young lady came to meet him. She was weeping and said she was the wife of Mukhtar Ansari. She said he had been arrested by the police, and she had definite information he would be killed by the police in a fake ‘encounter’.

Now Mr. Bhatnagar and Mr. Asif Ansari had not only been close friends, but they were also both bachelors who lived in the same house in Ashoknagar, Allahabad, and they had a law partnership together. I used to often go to them to brief them in cases.

Later, Asif Ansari died ( after becoming a Judge ) and Mr. Bhatnagar became Advocate General of UP. It was at this time that Mukhtar Ansari’s wife came to meet Mr. Bhatnagar.

Since Mr. Bhatnagar had been so close to Mukhtar Ansari’s uncle, and he had become the Advocate General of the state, he immediately telephoned the UP Home Secretary and requested that no such ‘encounter’ be done, though any legal action be taken against Mukhtar Ansari.

This probably saved Mukhtar Ansari’s life. He later became a BSP MLA but was charged for many offenses thereafter in several criminal cases.

I never met Mukhtar Ansari but met his wife on the occasion mentioned above.…