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Mukhtar Ansari laid to rest, thousands attend funeral procession amid tight security

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Ghazipur/Lucknow, Mar 30 (PTI) Gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari was laid to rest in Ghazipur on Saturday amid a blanket of security as a large crowd took part in the funeral procession while a few people tried to forcibly enter the burial ground, giving tough time to police personnel trying to maintain order.

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Some people in the procession raised slogans while an argument broke out between Ghazipur District Magistrate Aryaka Akhoury and Mukhtar's brother Afzal Ansari after the administration, in an attempt to manage the crowd, allegedly stopped some from entering the Kali Bagh burial ground to offer soil on the grave as part of rituals.

Ansari, a five-time MLA from Mau Sadar, was interred at his family's ancestral burial ground about half a km from their residence, near his parents' graves. According to family sources, the body was brought to his hometown around midnight on Friday and pre-burial rituals took place at their residence.

The 63-year-old had been behind bars in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab since 2005 and had over 60 criminal cases against him. He died on Thursday night at Rani Durgawati Medical College after being taken there from Banda jail when his health deteriorated.

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Local police said thousands of people from Ghazipur district and nearby areas turned up to attend the last rites. Despite elaborate security arrangements outside Ansari's residence and the graveyard, police faced a tough time managing the crowd as some people tried to force their way into the burial ground where entry was restricted.

The funeral procession took longer than expected to reach the burial ground in Mohammadabad because of the large crowd that accompanied the body, said Ravindra Singh, a local.

Varanasi Zone Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Piyush Mordia was present in Mohammadabad to supervise the arrangements.

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According to local sources, there was a heated exchange of words between the district magistrate and Afzal Ansari, an MP, during the burial rituals.

A video purportedly of the incident surfaced on social media platforms in which Afzal Ansari can be heard saying, "You cannot stop anyone from offering soil." To this, the district magistrate replied, "Family members can offer soil. Will the entire town offer soil?" Not just from the town, anyone from anywhere who wants to offer soil will do so, retorted Afzal Ansari as seen in the clip. When the Akhoury asked if any permission had been sought for the same and cited the prohibitory orders imposed in the district, Ansari said, "You cannot stop anyone from participating in a burial despite the imposition of CrPC section 144." The DM went on to say that videography is being done and legal action will be taken.

Following the death of Mukhtar Ansari, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which bars large gatherings, were imposed across the state and additional security personnel were deployed in the Banda, Mau, Ghazipur and Varanasi districts.

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Ansari, who hailed from Mau, was believed to have a strong influence in the adjoining Ghazipur and Varanasi districts as well.

Sources said the funeral procession started from Mukhtar Ansari's ancestral residence with his brother Afzal Ansari, son Omar Ansari and nephew Suhaib Ansari, an MLA, along with other family members and supporters took part. However, Mukhtar Ansari's elder son and MLA Abbas Ansari could not attend the funeral. He is lodged in Kasganj jail in connection with criminal cases.

A large crowd accompanied the procession and some also raised slogans. On reaching the cemetery, Afzal Ansari appealed to the crowd to maintain peace. His elder brother, former MLA Sibgatullah Ansari, also attended the funeral.

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According to the DIG of Varanasi Range, O P Singh, adequate police force was deployed everywhere. The Ansari family cooperated with the police. People started gathering in the area from Friday night and announcements were made to ensure that there was no overcrowding, he said.

"Before Mukhtar Ansari was laid to rest, Namaz-e-Janaza was offered near the house and later at the nearby Prince Maidan," Singh said.

Asked about some people in the crowd raising slogans, he said Mukhtar Ansari's family members had given a list of 40 to 50 people who were allowed to stay at the Kali Bagh cemetery at the time of burial. The rest were stopped after the prayers. There is complete peace, Singh added.

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Personnel of the police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and paramilitary forces were deployed at all important places. As the crowd swelled, more security personnel were deployed in the area later.

An official at the police headquarters said tight security arrangements have been made to maintain peace during the funeral.

In a post on X on Friday, Samajwadi Party MLA and Mukhtar Ansari's nephew Suhaib Ansari said, "My uncle Mukhtar Ansari passed away last night. Tomorrow, at 10 am, he will be buried in our Kali Bagh graveyard of Yusufpur Mohammadabad (Ghazipur). All of you are requested to pray for the forgiveness of the deceased." The post-mortem on Ansari confirmed that he died of cardiac arrest, a hospital source said on Friday. However, a magisterial inquiry was ordered as opposition parties raised questions over the death of gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari, amid allegations by his family that he died due to "slow poisoning" in Banda jail. PTI CDN SAB NSD NSD

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