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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Shaken Ansari wants to be shifted to Varanasi jail

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, February 21, 2013
First Published: 13:20 IST(21/2/2013) | Last Updated: 13:23 IST(21/2/2013)

Shaken by the hangings of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru in a span of four months, Aftab Ansari on death row wants to leave Bengal for Varanasi, his hometown. The American Center attack mastermind has requested the government to transfer him to Varanasi central jail where he can be close to his family and meet them regularly as he waits to be hanged.

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Ajmal Kasab responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai attack was hanged in Yervada jail in Pune on November 21. Afzal Guru mastermind of Parliament attack was hanged on February 9 in Tihar jail.

Ansari (38), who is presently lodged at Alipur central jail, has written a letter (copy with HT) to IG prison appealing to transfer him to a jail in Varanasi. Since 2005 he is staying in Alipur central jail as a death sentence prisoner.

“He stated in his petition that his native residence is in Lalatpura area in Varanasi Uttar Pradesh. Being a permanent resident of the same, his family members are not in a position to visit Kolkata frequently. . He wants to be shifted to Varanasi central jail where he can meet his family members periodically,” said a senior official of Alipur central jail.

Jail officials said that after the recent hangings of Guru and Kasab, Aftab believes that his death sentence, which was given in 2005, will be carried out soon. “We believe that he is shaken and wants to spend the little time he has at his native Varanasi and close to his family members,” said a jail officer.

In his letter he also argued that he has three pending cases in Varanasi, which are held up since 2002. He said that for years he is not been produced in these cases, which are held up and are at a standstill. He wants speedy trial in these cases too. “Kindly take necessary action in the interest of justice,” the letter ends.

Meanwhile, jail authorities, fearing that a depressed Aftab Ansari may take any step or even harm himself, have heightened security inside his cell in Alipur central jail. Six CCTV cameras had been installed in his cell covering every inch, monitoring Ansari 24 hours a day. A jail guard is posted near his cell 24 hours.

Jail sources said that whenever he moves out of his cell to the telephone booth a jail officer and a jail guard accompanies him.

On January 22, 2002 five policemen were killed and 20 others injured as terrorists opened fire on the policemen on duty in front of American Center in Kolkata.

Ansari was the alleged mastermind and was arrested in Dubai and deported to India on February 9, 2002. The lower court awarded death sentence to him in 2005. He then petitioned Calcutta high court, which upheld the death sentence on February 2010.


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