March 14, 2021 2:20:35 am
A Uttar Pradesh minister Saturday accused Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa of meeting the family members of jailed UP MLA and history sheeter Mukhtar Ansari during his visit to Lucknow from March 12 to 13, a charge denied by the Congress leader.
UP Cabinet minister Siddharth Nath Singh alleged that the Randhawa held secret meeting with the kin of Ansari, who is lodged in Ropar Jail, and that he was received by latter’s relatives. It was also alleged that he met the family members of Ansari at a five-star hotel in Lucknow.
Ansari has become a bone of contention between the UP and the Punjab governments with the former accusing the latter of shielding Mau MLA and not allowing UP prisons department to take his custody.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Randhawa said that there was no truth in the allegations levelled at him. “Will I go to UP to meet Ansari’s family members? I was with my team of officials and had lunch with them as well as a UP Police SP. If the UP government knew that I was meeting gangsters, what steps did they take to nab them? They had security people even outside by hotel room,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa said the persons in a photograph with him portrayed as Ansari’s relatives were Registrar Cooperative Societies, Vikas Garg and other members of the team which included MD Punjab State Cooperative Bank, Hargunjit Kaur, AMD Jagdish Singh Sidhu and a BSNL team headed by a GM Suresh Chander Badal.
He also said that SP (Law and Order) Lucknow, Varinder Kumar, was with him when he was being escorted by the UP Police to his hotel.
As per Randhawa’s itinerary, he left for Lucknow on an Indigo Airlines flight from Chandigarh on the morning of March 12. He was put up at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar and attended a “live demonstration of the BSNL working product” the same day at Hazratganj. On March 13, he took an afternoon flight back to Chandigarh.
This itinerary was shared with the office of the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Director General of Police and Police Commissioner.
A statement issued by the state government later in the evening said that the minister’s visit was related to study of high end computerisation of cooperative sector institutions in Uttar Pradesh and replicate the same in Punjab.
The Uttar Pradesh government had recently moved the Supreme Court over the issue of custody of Ansari and had said that he has been brought to Punjab under some vague allegations. As per the Punjab government, Ansari was booked for extortion and criminal intimidation of a builder from whom he demanded Rs 10 crore.
His transfer to UP has been held up on account of medical advice of panel of doctors of the Punjab jails department. He is said to have been suffering from high sugar levels and back pain and has been advised ‘bed rest’ by doctors in Ropar Jail as well as PGI Chandigarh.
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