The Ansaris: A family of paradox

muktar-ansari-pti [File] Mukhtar Ansari addresses a press meet in Lucknow | PTI
  • The Ansari family gave birth to not only criminals and dons but to great humanitarians like Muktar Ahmed Ansari and India's vice president Muhammed Hamid Ansari.

Politics has an enduring tryst with criminals in Uttar Pradesh where elections to the 403 constituencies are under way. As the state goes to the sixth phase of polls on March 4, a prominent sitting MLA , notorious for decades of criminal background, is contesting from behind bars.

Mukhtar Ansari, a mafia don-turned-politician, who has more than 40 criminal cases against him, is contesting from the Mau constituency on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. He has been elected as an MLA from this constituency for a record four times. Ansari, who is facing trial as the prime accused in the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Krishnanand Rai, was recently denied permission to campaign during the election as the Delhi High Court set aside a trial court order granting him custody parole.

The successful political stint of Ansari and his brothers—Afzal Ansari and Sibakatullah Ansari—might not raise many eyebrows as people with blood stains on their hands have never been considered outcast in Uttar Pradesh. BSP supremo Mayawati, who had expelled Ansari in 2010 for his criminal activities, re-inducted him in January 2017, thereby giving him a "chance to reform himself."

The irony, however, is that the Ansari family gave birth to not only criminals and dons but also to great humanitarians like Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari and India's vice president Muhammed Hamid Ansari.

Ahmed Ansari, former president of Indian National Congress (1927) and the Muslim League, was a freedom fighter and one of the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia University. He was an ardent Gandhi loyalist and a promoter of non-violence. An Indian pioneer in surgery, he also led the Indian medical mission to treat Turkish soldiers injured during the Balkan war. He was a student at Charing Cross hospital in London, where a medical ward has been named after him to honour his work.

Hamid Ansari, known for his campaigns for human rights before being elevated to the post of vice president, is the grandnephew of Ahmed Ansari.

On the other hand, Mukhtar Ansari doesn't seem to have inherited the legacy of his grandfather. A family which was involved in the country's freedom movement, later became the leading criminal mafia in Uttar Pradesh. Ansari and his brothers led the gang wars in Mau, Ghazipur, Varanasi and Jonupur. Frequent gun battles between Ansari's gang and its rival group led by one Brijesh Singh rocked eastern Uttar Pradesh in the 90s. Muktar Ansari, who formed Quami Ekta Dal party after being expelled from the BSP, faces four charges related to murder and several other cases including criminal intimidation, cheating and forgery. Still Mayawati called him a 'messiah of the poor' and portrayed him as Robin Hood. She hopes he can consolidate the Muslim votes in her party's favour. With Ansari in jail, his brother Afzal Ansari leads the campaign in Mau where they face a tough challenge this time from the BJP which has fielded Alka Rai, widow of Krishnanad Rai. Sibakatullah, the eldest of the Ansari brothers, is an MLA from Mohammadabad.

Will the next generation of Ansari family be free of blood stains? Muktar Ansari's elder son, Abbas Ansari, is an ace shooter and a gold winner in national - level shooting. A management graduate, Abbas has made his electoral debut this time contesting on a BSP ticket at Ghosi where he is taking on BJP's Fagu Singh Chouhan and Samajwadi Party's Sudhakar Singh.

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