Gangs of Ghazipur: Why a Murder in August 1991 Casts a Shadow on This Lok Sabha Seat in Uttar Pradesh – News18

Gangs of Ghazipur: Why a Murder in August 1991 Casts a Shadow on This Lok Sabha Seat in Uttar Pradesh – News18

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UP Congress chief Ajay Rai (R) has fought a legal battle of 32 years for his brother's murder, which resulted in gangster Mukhtar Ansari (L) being convicted and awarded a life sentence. (Image: PTI/File)

UP Congress chief Ajay Rai (R) has fought a legal battle of 32 years for his brother’s murder, which resulted in gangster Mukhtar Ansari (L) being convicted and awarded a life sentence. (Image: PTI/File)

The question remains if Congress will extend its support to Ghazipur’s SP candidate Afzal Ansari, who is the brother of gangster Mukhtar Ansari, who was convicted for the murder of UP Congress chief Ajay Rai’s brother

The Samajwadi Party and Congress have formally entered a seat-sharing deal in Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in which the Akhilesh Yadav-led party and its smaller allies will contest 63 of the state’s 80 seats. The question whether the votes will transfer to each other remains, but the spotlight has been on Ghazipur where a gang war that resulted in an assassination on August 3, 1991, casts an ominous and uncertain shadow.

The Ghazipur Lok Sabha seat is with the SP, where Akhilesh has already announced gangster Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Afzal Ansari as the candidate. Being in alliance, will the Congress create roadblocks for the SP candidate? One would argue, won’t the Congress leadership rein in such elements? But, what if the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief has grudges to grind?

State Congress president Ajay Rai was born in Varanasi to Parvati Devi Rai and Surendra Rai in a Bhumihar Brahmin family. Both his parents were natives of Ghazipur district and, hence, Rai has a long-standing connection here and with the Ansaris that dates back to the 90s and has its roots in the 80s.

In the 1980s Uttar Pradesh, the competition of two rival gangsters Brijesh Singh and Mukhtar Ansari, was well known. Ajay Rai was considered to be close to Singh, while Mukhtar considered Singh as his biggest enemy. And, in the bloody world of gang wars, a friend of your enemy is also considered your enemy. By that virtue, the enmity between Ajay and Mukhtar became apparent.

Then came the fateful day of August 3, 1991, when Ajay’s elder brother Avday Rai was shot multiple times outside his house by a group of unknown men who came in a car. A young Ajay took his brother to hospital, but he was pronounced dead. He, however, strongly believed that it was Mukhtar who had sent the shooters that took his brother from him.

Ajay lodged an FIR and fought a long legal battle of 32 years that resulted in a Varanasi court finding Mukhtar guilty of the murder of Avday Rai, and awarded him a life sentence. Now, the lingering question is, will Ajay seek votes for the brother of someone who murdered his brother in cold blood?

The entire region of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Balia and Mau has a significant Bhumihar presence as well, and see Afzal Ansari as anti-Bhumihar for the 1991 murder. The SP is wary that Ajay may end up helping the BJP candidate in Ghazipur because blood runs thicker than water and dearer than politics.

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