The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Convict out and about as VIP
- Released for medical check-up, MLA ‘rules’ and returns

Lucknow, April 18: Mukhtar Ansari is a convict, serving a 10-year term in Lucknow jail.

Yesterday was his day out, during which he got a lot of his pending work done. The Independent MLA, sentenced two months ago, first dropped in on an inspector-general of police at the police headquarters, went on a shopping spree with his entourage and topped the day up by holding court at his residence.

And like a good convict, returned to the jail at the end of the day.

He had been released for the day for a “medical check-up”, but must simply have forgotten to pay a visit to the doctor.

Anyway, he did not appear to be too upset at not having gone for the “medical check-up”. At the end of a day’s work — done well, it would seem — the MLA from Mau in eastern Uttar Pradesh declared with satisfaction: “Sab theek thak ho gaya hai. Sabh jagah apne aadmi post karva diye hain (Everything has been set right and our men have been posted at all the right places).”

Ansari is facing a dozen criminal cases in addition to his conviction under the defunct anti-terror law, Tada. He initially belonged to chief minister Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), but was expelled before the last Assembly poll, which he won nonetheless as an Independent. The win came in handy for both Ansari and Mayavati when another Independent MLA revolted against the chief minister and Ansari traversed a full circle back to the BSP.

“The VIP treatment meted out to Ansari is a reward for changing loyalties,” said an Opposition MLA.

The Opposition will say anything to run the other side down, but there is no doubt about Ansari’s VIP stature. At the police headquarters, he collected salutes from policemen as he marched to the IG’s office.

Uttar Pradesh police chief Hakim Singh refused to comment on Ansari’s visit to the headquarters but the IG (establishment), Rati Ram, confirmed that the convict had called on him about the transfer of some policemen.

“I didn’t know he had come from jail,” the IG said.

The superintendent of Lucknow jail had proceeded on leave on Thursday itself, which has proved to be convenient. His subordinate said a jail doctor had referred the MLA to the Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University here.

Ansari left the jail in the morning accompanied by a police posse that followed his fleet of cars at an apologetic distance. He certainly did not require the security the police offered as gun-toting henchmen covered his flanks whenever he stepped out of the car. His friend, Abhay Singh, known for his muscle-power, sat by him in the vehicle.

After spending half-an-hour with the police officer, Ansari came out smiling and the motorcade proceeded towards the Hazratganj market. On the way, his armed private escorts beat up a photographer trying to capture the historic moment and snatched the camera away.

At Hazratganj, shopkeepers bowed their heads in awe and shoppers scampered out of the way in shock as Ansari splurged. The entourage sauntered through another — Janpath — market before proceeding towards his MLA’s apartment at Vidhayak Niwas, curious eyes following him from a safe distance.

Once there, Ansari blessed seekers of his benevolence and advised followers who had fallen foul of the police.

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