After spending more than two years in Punjab’s Rupnagar prison, gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, 57, was brought back to Banda jail in Uttar Pradesh (UP) early Wednesday by road. Ansari’s return to Banda jail was in compliance with a March 26 Supreme Court order directing his transfer to UP where he faces trials in several criminal cases.

The nearly 840 kilometre road journey took a little over 14 hours with Ansari, a five term MLA, in an ambulance that was part of the motorcade comprising GPS-enabled Vajra anti-riot vehicle, and gun-toting security personnel. About 100 policemen, including two deputy superintendents of police, and six sub inspectors, escorted the Bahujan Samaj Party MLA from Mau.

The motorcade made only two stoppages in Agra – where drivers were changed – and then briefly in Satti in Kanpur.

Also Read | ‘Mukhtar Ansari was given poison in same Banda jail,’ says his brother

According to Banda circle officer (CO) Banda Rakesh Singh, only the ambulance carrying Ansari and another vehicle were allowed to go inside the heavily guarded jail gates.

Banda jail superintendent PK Tripathi said Ansari has been kept away from others in barrack number 15. He said security staff around Ansari would be sporting body worn cameras.

Before being shifted out to Punjab jail two years ago, Ansari was lodged in this jail. While he was served food from outside then, this time, for security and medical reasons, he would be served prison food, jail officials said.

Earlier new CCTV cameras were installed in Banda jail. “All the 19 cameras inside the jail have been changed or repaired,” a jail staff said, adding that strict watch was being kept on all visitors.

A day ago, Ansari’s wife, Afshan Ansari, approached the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the UP Police to “not kill” her husband in a fake encounter and allow him to face a “free and fair trial”. She pleaded that Ansari be provided security also during his transportation to court for trial proceedings. Her plea is likely to come up for hearing within a week or so. (With agency inputs)

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