LUCKNOW: The high-security barrack of the Chitrakoot District Jail in Uttar Pradesh resonated with sounds of gunfire on Friday morning, as two hardened criminals from UP were allegedly gunned down by a fellow jail inmate in an alleged gang war. The third man was later killed by police.
As per an official statement released later, two prisoners, Meraj alias Bhai Meraj and Mukim alias Kala, were shot dead by fellow jail inmate Anshu Dixit. Coming to know about the shootout which happened at around 10 am, a team of local cops and administration, including the Chitrakoot district magistrate and police superintendent rushed to the jail.
Subsequently, the third man involved, Anshu Dixit was killed by the police, after he opened fire on the police team, when the cops tried to take him into custody.
Mukim alias Kala, a West UP gangster (wanted in over 60 cases of murder, loot and other organized crimes in UP, Haryana and Uttarakhand) was shifted from West UP’s Saharanpur Jail to Chitrakoot Jail on May 7, 2021. Meraz, who was accused in 14 cases, including murder, drug smuggling and extortion in Varanasi and Rae Bareli districts of UP, was shifted from Varanasi Jail to Chitrakoot Jail on March 20, while Anshu Tripathi(wanted in many cases in UP and Bhopal) came from Rae Bareli jail in December 2019, after his video of threatening people over phone from the jail premises had gone viral.
Meraj was a crucial link between two high-profile and allied UP gangsters – Mukhtar Ansari (also a BSP MLA shifted recently from a Punjab Jail to Banda Jail in UP) and Prem Prakash alias Munna Bajrangi, who was shot dead by a fellow jail inmate at Baghpat Jail of UP in July 2018. Importantly, Bajrangi’s killing in the alleged gang war was the last big killing in a UP jail.
The UP CM Yogi Adityanath, meanwhile, sought an immediate report from DG (Jail) Anand Kumar within six hours. Initiating actions, ACS (Home) Avnish Awasthi has already released an order suspending the superintendent and jailer of Chitrakoot prison.
According to DG (Jail) Anand Kumar, the Chitrakoot shootout is a very serious matter, particularly as to how the firearm reached the high-security barrack of the jail. Action will be initiated by the evening, while a judicial probe too will be conducted in the entire incident.
According to informed sources, the killing of Meraj assumes significance not only because he was a close aide of Munna Bajrangi, but also because he was a key man associated with gangster-turned-BSP MLA from East UP’s Mau seat Mukhtar Ansari, who is lodged at the jail in adjoining Banda district.
UP police sources in Varanasi-Ghazipur region, who’ve closely followed the decades-old rivalry between two East UP organized criminals gangs (one led by MLA Mukhtar Ansari and other led by MLC Brijesh Singh) confided to The New Indian Express that Meraj (who originally hailed from Ghazipur district, but made neighbouring Varanasi his area of operation) was a key link between allied Munna Bajrangi and Mukhtar Ansari gangs and used to work as their prime face in Varanasi region in extortion and other illegal business.
Since Munna Bajrangi’s murder, Meraj was handling his remaining business and coordinating with Mukhtar Ansari’s aides. His killing is likely to leave the entire field of railway and road tenders/contracts in UP up for grabs for Mukhtar Ansari-Munna Bajrangi gang’s rivals, including Brijesh Singh and Dhananjay Singh.
Meanwhile, BSP MP from East UP’s Ghazipur seat Afzal Ansari (who is jailed MLA Mukhtar Ansari’s elder sibling) called the entire gang war and shootout theory an eyewash. “Was any railway or road building tender bidding process underway in full public view that a gang war happened. This serious security lapse happened in a high-security barrack of a jail, where the courts had sent three prisoners in judicial custody. How can firearms reach a high-security barrack of a jail? The entire incident needs to be probed by a High Court judge and not any SDM level officer, else a few officials and staff of the jail will be suspended and nothing will happen after that.”
Ansari further linked the incident to the alleged Yogi Adityanath government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Dead bodies are floating in river Ganga and graves on riverbanks are exposing how the pandemic has been mishandled by the present state government, this incident in Chitrakoot Jail is a perfect incident to divert public attention from the pandemic’s mishandling. The incident seems to be a perfect movie plot, which was written, directed and executed by powerful people. Two men who were killed in a gang war and the one who allegedly shot them dead are all dead now, so the entire chapter has been very professionally closed,” the BSP MP alleged.