Mukhtar Ansari, six others acquitted in murder of BJP MLA
Had not the prosecution witnesses turned hostile, the outcome of the trial may have been different, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court said, and cited the handicap posed by the absence of a witness protection programme.Updated: Jul 04, 2019, 01:07 IST
A Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted controversial Uttar Pradesh politician Mukhtar Ansari, his MP brother Afzal Ansari and five others in connection with the November 29, 2005 murder of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Krishnanand Rai in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh.
Had not the prosecution witnesses turned hostile, the outcome of the trial may have been different, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court said, and cited the handicap posed by the absence of a witness protection programme.
Rai was murdered along with six others. The CBI later charged Mukhtar Ansari, an alleged gangster-turned-politician now with the Bahujan Samaj Party, with planning the murder. Ansari, who has over 40 criminal cases registered against him, has been lodged in jail since 2005.
Rai’s brother, Ram Narain Rai, in the FIR lodged in the case, told the police that the victims had been attacked by a group of gunmen who fired indiscriminately at them when they were returning from Siyari village to Kanuwan. Rai, along with the six others, died on the spot.
“This is a gruesome case of murder of seven persons. The investigation of the case was transferred from UP police to CBI. The trial of the case was transferred from UP to Delhi. Unfortunately, the case of the prosecution has suffered as all the eyewitnesses and material witnesses turned hostile,” said special judge Arun Bhardwaj.
The CBI court also held that the investigators had failed to prove the charges by not producing sufficient evidence against Ansari and the others.
The CBI said Rai and Ansari brothers had been rivals since the former defeated Afzal Ansari from the Mohammadabad legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh where the latter had been undefeated since 1982. Rai ended Afzal Ansari’s winning cycle in 2002.
One of the witnesses, Prem Chand Rai, told the court that of a firing incident in January 2004 after which the politician started getting threats from the Ansari brothers and he feared for life. The state government led by the Samajwadi Party had reports Krishnanand Rai’s life was in danger, and provided him armed UP policemen for his security. The four security guards were withdrawn when for reasons best known to the government and without the politician being intimated of the withdrawal, the CBI submitted in court.
While acquitting Ansari and others, the judge observed, “that when a contestant loses legislative assembly elections, it will not result in enmity of such a nature ... he would think of murdering his opponent who has defeated him.” The court said Afzal Ansari’s defeat in 2002 had been a blessing in disguise as Ansari won election to Parliament from the Ghazipur in 2005. So there was no reason for Ansari to nurture ill will against Rai, the judge said.
The court found no merit in CBI’s submission that Rai had written to Mulayam Singh Yadav, then chief minister of UP, for enhancing his security because of threats from the Ansari brothers. It observed that Rai “was confident of giving up his bullet proof vehicle,” which shows “that there was no real threat to him.”