Was Chitrakoot Jail episode a stage-managed police encounter? Relatives had feared it

When the news on May 14, arrived that three gangsters inside Chitrakoot Jail, UP were killed, the movie Pataal Lok splashed before my eyes as a large part of it revolved around  Chitrakoot’s crime world.  Perhaps, what its director could not have perceived was how murders even inside the safe-premises of Chitrakoot Jail can happen. This is real time UP. The reel-time can take a gasp!

When three criminals Merajuddin (Benarus), Muqeem Kaala (Shamli)  and Anshu Dixit (Sitapur) , inside Chitrakoot Jail were murdered, it is bound to raise questions; the most pertinent would be as to how a 9 mm pistol could reach inside the jail something about which all prime news outlets have extensively discussed. Particularly, when during the Corona-period, ‘meetings’ had been put on hold and the prisoners were to be locked separately from each other due to the fear of spread of COVID-19.  The portents of the event perhaps smacks of a stage-managed police encounter! It may be mentioned here that their relatives had already expressed about the danger to their lives.

What has come to light is the official statement from Chitrakoot Superintendent of Jail  SP Tripathi that Anshu Dixit had snatched the service-revolver from jail-staff who had gone to stop the brawl between the prisoners. From the media sources it is learnt that  Anshu first killed Merajuddin and later Muqeem Kaala and also that when Mairajuddin protested over the killing of Muqeem Kaala he was killed, and later police shot Anshu Dixit dead. What is the reality?  This is what needs a probe on the direction of a sitting High Court judge. Merajuddin brother Sirajuddin and nephew Pervaiz are already in jail.

It is also being alleged that Anshu had taken some prisoners as hostage which prompted a police action in which he was killed. Whatever took place has enough room for suspicions as may be that all the three were killed by police and now a well scripted story is being dished-out to media. It is also coming out through media mediums what Anshu Dixit had spoken before he murdered the two. All perhaps poing t a nicely drafted story but which cannot escape objective scrutiny, as there hadn’t been any dying-statement recorded by Anshu Dixit.  It may here be mentioned that this is the second such high profile incident as in Bhagpat Jail, Sunil Rathi is said to have killed Munna Bajrangi by a 9 mm pistol in 2018. Both Munna and Merajuddin are said to have been associated with a MLA Mukhtar Ansari who is right now inside Banda Jail recently shifted from Punjab. Another mafia don and Ex. MP Dhananjay Singh is also fearing for his life who is right now in Fatehgarh Jail where Sunil Rathi is the inmate.

It is a wide and considered fact that the security inside jail is the responsibility of jail administration and district administration and ‘ a murder inside jail is a clear indication that until the jail authorities had a tacit-understanding an incident of such grave propensity could never have taken place,’ said Muhammed Shoaib, a senior counsel associated with human rights movement Rihai Manch in Lucknow. According to media reports, the Chitrakoot Jail had a CCTV installed in every nook and corner, night vision binoculars, human body scanner, dual view scanner baggage, drone cameras and high-quality metal detectors. With this kind of security apparatus in place how come a 9 mm pistol reach inside? This is the big question, more specifically when the Ragoli Jail at Chitrakoot had already stopped ‘meeting the prisoners’ from the past one year.  What has perplexed everyone is with this wherewithal of security how could Anshu Dixit lay his hands on a 9 mm pistol? If not the jail staff was involved ? Only a thorough probe can unravel it.

Meanwhile, Minhaj the son of Merajuddin wants justice be done to his deceased father. He informed that his father was shifted from Varanasi jail to Chitrakoot Jail on March 20 and he had written for his security to DM, SSP, Jail DG, UPDGP and to the Court too, since October 5, 2020 when his father had been in jail in Varanasi who had surrender in a police station. Merajuddin is survived by two sons and a daughter.  Muqeem Kaalas nephew Sahil informed that the news of Muqeem’s death came to him through a phone at about 11 am-12pm and questions that when even a cigarette cannot reach inside a jail then how come arms could reach inside? Muqeem too was shifted to Chitrakoot from Saharanpur Jail on May 7, and once when he was threatened with death the family reached High Court. Muqeem younger brother Waseem who was 17 years had already died in a police encounter last year, wrote Nakul Singh Sawnhey in TheWire. Sawhney had also gone to meet Muqeem in Yamuna Nagar Jail in Haryana. Muqeem’S mother Meena and his father Mustaqeem were both in jail when Waseem was killed.  Mustakeem is in Saharanpur Jail under Gangster Act put by UP police. Muqeem is survived by a four-year son Bilal. His wife Yasmeen lives with her parents in Kurtan, Shamli district in UP.

Sahil who was in Chitrakoot informed that in wake of security-threat to Muqeem, HC was approached on which HC had observed that security protocol of Jail Manual was to be adhered to,  “but then what was the hurry to jettison him to Chitrakoot when on one side SC has ordered for the release of prisoners, to decongest the jails, in the wake of Covid-19?  Where does this policy of shifting prisoners of UP government stand for? Plus how come permanent and non-permanent prisoners came to blows? Was the protocol of Covid-19 all shrugged-off inside the jail? Why was Muqeem shifted in such plain hurry,” questioned Sahil.  Meena also informed that police exerted pressure on her to bring Waseem and when Waseem came to Meerut, UP STF shot him dead. She has taken the matter to National Human Right Commission as well as to SC. She herself had been sent to jail.

In the wake of these deaths, the communalistic media is dishing-out stories about the exodus of Hindus from Kairana in 2016, due to Muqeem’s fear, as was once raised by BJP MP Hukum Singh and which had turned out to be a hoax after investigation, as even the names of those who had died were listed by Hukum Singh, and also interestingly, Muqeem was in jail when Hukum Singh had released the list. Merajuddin is categorized as an associate of Mukhtar Ansari by media to further perpetuate the communal angle, which has prompted a petition in SC seeking a probe into the whole Chitrakoot affair by CBI or NIA.

The latest event at Chitrakoot found Anshu killing Muqeem and Merajuddin and later Anshu was also killed. The criminals are dead. The proofs are dead. UP government prides into doing 5000 encounters in the last five years under BJP CM Ajay Singh Bisht. Mukhtar Ansari and Dhananjay Singh-both rivals, also dread for their lives. May be Pataal Lok-2 may take a cue?

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The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.

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