Lucknow: The murder of gangster Munna Bajrangi inside Baghpat district jail in Uttar Pradesh on Monday raises serious questions on the law and order situation of the state and the jail administration, but at the same time it has also revived the gang war which was probably lying low for almost a decade now.
While still in jail in 2012, Bajrangi contested Assembly elections as a joint candidate of Apna Dal and Peace Party from Madiyahu seat. He did not win the elections but came in third and secured 12% votes.
Munna Bajrangi might have been unsuccessful in the world of politics, but there are many others like him who successfully graduated from crime to politics.
Mukhtar Ansari, Harishankar Tiwari, Ateeq Ahmad, Dhananjay Singh, Brijesh Rai, Anna Shukla, are some mafia dons who made the successful transition to politics.
One of the top names in Purvanchal, Muktar Ansari hails from a family of freedom fighter and a doctor in his time, Dr. MA Ansari. Muktar Ansari's father was also a freedom fighter and communist leader. Muktar Ansari too was actively involved in student politics. His name came up for the first time in a murder case in 1988, but the police could not establish the charges against him. But this gained him notoriety and in 1990s Mukhtar Ansari was a dreaded name in the world of government contracts and crime. In the year 1995, Ansari decided to try his luck in politics and was elected in 1996 to UP Assembly for the first time from Mau. He has represented Mau five times consecutive terms. After the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, Ansari went to Jail in 2005 and continues to be behind bars.
One of the biggest names when it comes to don- turned-politicans is of Atique Ahmad from Allahabad, who went on to become a Member of Parliament from Phulpur constituency in 2004.
As per his affidavit in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he has declared that there are 42 cases pending against him, including 6 charges of murder, and 6 for attempted murder, and 4 of kidnapping and abduction. The most sensational murder was that of BSP MLA Raju Pal, who had defeated Atique’s brother Ashraf in the 2004 elections.
Another big name in list of dons from Uttar Pradesh is of Dhananjay Singh, who stepped into politics and went on to become a Member of Parliament. In the late- 1990s, when Brijesh Singh was on the run, Dhananjay emerged as the new Thakur don of Poorvanchal. He first became an MLA from Rarhi in Jaunpur in 2002 as an independent and later joined the SP. In 2007, he joined BSP once again and became an MLA. He went on to become MP in 2009 on a BSP ticket. In 2013, Dhananjay and his ex-wife Jagriti were arrested over the murder of his maid at his official residence in Delhi. However, they were released on bail later.
If Brijesh Singh and Dhananjay Singh were considered Thakur dons then Harishankar Tiwari can be termed as the Brahmin Face of dons in Uttar Pradesh. Mafia-turned-don Harishankar Tiwari has been six time MLA and has tried his hand from cycle stand contracts to multi-million civil contracts. His influence in Purvanchal can be gauged by the fact that he has been a cabinet minister in Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav governments. Tiwari has almost 26 cases registered against him for heinous crimes like Murder, attempt to murder, extortion, etc. He was probably the first jailed don who had won elections from behind the bars.
Arun Shukla alias Anna alias Maharaj is another name in the dark world of crime. He went on to become an MLC from Samajwadi Party and eventually joined BSP in early 90s. Anna has a total of 79 criminal cases pending against him. He was considered as one of the most dreaded mafia dons of the state capital. Anna was also named in the infamous guest house incident involving BSP Supremo Mayawati in 2005.
Even though Brijesh Singh had stepped into the world of crime to take revenge for the murder of his father, but the intoxication of strength and power soon took over his ambitions. Within a short span of time, Brijesh started putting his hand in the contract for coal, silk, railway, etc and battle for domination started soon after. In this journey of more than three decades, more than 27 cases were registered against Brijesh Singh in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bengal along with Purvanchal of Uttar Pradesh. Brijesh is currently BJP MLA from Deoband Assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh.