Lady don Afsha: The story of Mukhtar Ansari's wife

After Shasita Parveen, the absconding wife of gangster Atiq Ahmed who was shot dead last year while being taken to hospital in police custody, now the name of another ‘lady don’ has emerged with the death of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari a few days ago. There was speculation whether Ansari’s wife, Afsha, who is wanted in several criminal cases and is on the run, would attend the last rites of her husband today. His son, Umar Ansari, and brother, Ghazipur MP Afzal Ansari, were present at the funeral. Ansari’s another son, Mau MLA Abbas Ansari, who is in Kasganj jail in connection with a money laundering case, could not attend the funeral for not getting parole in time.

The police, as per media reports, was keeping a keen eye on the last rites of Ansari in case the fugitive Afsha decided to turn up, but she did not.

The mafia dons of east UP ran out of favour with ‘lady luck’ a few years ago as their strategy of running their illegal trades and amassing property in the name of their better halves and organising criminal enterprise through them was checked by the Yogi Adityanath government. The ill-gotten wealth of jailed mafia dons including Mukhtar Ansari, Dhruv Singh alias Kuntu and Vijay Mishra, who ran their syndicates and illegal business through their wives, was targeted by the government in its crackdown on organized crime in Uttar Pradesh.

Afsha Ansari‘s criminal enterprise

Afsha Ansari, a resident of Darzi Mohalla, Yusufpur in Mohammadabad of Ghazipur district, is an accused in several criminal cases. She faces six cases, with a reward of Rs 75,000 for information leading to her arrest. The reward was increased last year from Rs 50,000.

Charges against her include cheating, forgery, theft, criminal trespass, damage to public property and activities under the Gangsters Act. First case was registered against her in 2019. Subsequent cases were registered in different police stations in Ghazipur district. She was declared a fugitive by Mau police in 2022 after she failed to appear in cases against her. A lookout notice was issued against her last year. While contesting from Mau on BSP ticket in 2017 assembly elections, she had declared legal possession of an ANP revolver costing Rs 2.5 lakh.

Afsha had set up a firm, Vikas Construction, to run her land-grabbing empire. With the UP Police beginning to crackdown on gangster wives or lady dons who ran their jailed husband’s criminal enterprise, the heat reached Afsha too. In 2020, a hotel owned by her, Hotel Ghazal, in Mahuabagh area in Ghazipur was bulldozed. Not only was the building illegal, but a case on the title of the land was also going on in court. In 2021, Ghazipur police attached a plot of Afsha worth Rs 9.44 crore. Later, an FCU godown built on government land was also demolished. In 2022, Mau police attached a plot with market value of Rs 3.76 crore of Afsha in Sheikhpur area. It was found to be bought with illegal money. In the same year, the police attached two plots of Afsha in Ghazipur estimated at Rs 6.30 crore which were found to be bought with illegally earned money..

As action intensified to destroy the economic empire of Mukhtar, his family and gang members in the past three years, the financial losses to the gang crossed the mark of Rs 850 crore, as per police records, it was reported last year.

Mukhtar Ansari was jailed in 2005 after he got BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai murdered. After that, his criminal empire, called gang IS 191, was run by his wife and many other family members.

How Afsha met Mukhtar Ansari

For Mukhtar and Afsha, it was love at first sight in a cricket stadium. Mukhtar Ansari inherited his passion for cricket from his father, who was the captain of the cricket team at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi during his student days. Ansari came from an illustrious family. His grandfather, an eminent surgeon, was an important figure in the Independence movement and had become president of Indian National Congress as well as Muslim League. His maternal grandfather was an army officer who was awarded Maha Vir Chakra for his valour in the war with Pakistan in 1947. A cousin of his, Hamid Ansari, became India’s vice-president.

Ansari wanted to become a cricketer and practised in a stadium in Ghazipur where he studied in a college. A girl, who used to watch him play in the stadium, fell in love with her and the parents of both agreed to their marriage. Ansari and Afsha got married in 1989.

Ansari lost his interest in cricket as he got drawn to the world of crime. After he was jailed, it was Afsha who became the link between him and his gang members. She used to go to meet him in jail, feed him on the affairs of the gang and pass on his instructions to the gang members. There were allegations that she even used to live with him in the jail premises illegally for long periods which was possible due to the political patronage enjoyed by Ansari.

(With inputs from TOI and Navbharat Times)

Roy Walsh

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