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Politics, extortion & murder — how the Bijnor court shootout continues to rattle the city

Shahnawaz Ansari, who was accused of murdering BSP's Haji Ehsan, was shot to death by three assailants including the victim's son in a district court Tuesday.

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Bijnor: Bijnor remains rattled four days after the shootout Tuesday inside the city’s district court, where the main accused in the murder of a BSP leader was shot dead by three assailants. 

People in Kanakpur village where Shahnawaz Ansari, the main accused in the murder of BSP leader and Najibabad-based property dealer Haji Ehsan and his nephew Shadab, was a resident, told ThePrint that he was always considered a good man despite being involved in suspicious activities. Ehsan’s neighbors in the village of Najibabad also said that he was well-liked across the village.

However, amidst all this praise by the villagers, Bijnor City SP Sanjiv Tyagi confirmed that several criminal cases were filed against both Shahnawaz and Ehsan.

The district court in Bijnor where the shooting occurred | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
The district court in Bijnor where the shooting occurred | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Shahnawaz, along with his associate Jabbar, was brought to the Bijnor court by the Delhi Police from Tihar Jail. According to reports and eyewitness accounts, three assailants, fired at least 20 rounds at Ansari while he was signing a document. He died on the spot while Jabbar managed to escape.

In a press conference, SP Sanjiv Tyagi confirmed that the three assailants, which included Ehsan’s minor son Sahil, had been arrested on the spot but the woman who passed on weapons to them is still at large.

“I am sure that one of three shooters in the court incident is Sahil’s mother Rizwana who has killed my brother by hatching a large conspiracy,” said Shahnawaz’s brother Suhail Ansari who lives in Kanakpur.


Also read:18 police personnel suspended over UP courtroom firing that killed murder accused


Shahnawaz was well-liked in his village

Shahnawaz Ansari was involved in the property business and his house is considered the most illustrious in the entire village of Kanakpur. However, he was also accused of being involved in several nefarious activities including working for don-turned-BSP leader Mukhtar Ansari as a shooter and an extortionist. He was even accused of murdering people if the extortion failed.

Ehsan was allegedly murdered after he failed to give money to Shahnawaz. On the murder charges, Suhail said that even if he had facilitated the murder, the matter was closed now. He, in turn, accused Ehsan’s family of conspiring to murder Shahnawaz . 

“If he had actually killed someone, then the law might have prosecuted him. Even now we wish the law takes its own course and we get the justice that is due to us. We want the shooters that fired bullets in the Court campus and the main planners of this whole conspiracy to be prosecuted.”

Shahnawaz's house in Kanakpur village | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Shahnawaz’s house in Kanakpur village | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Even though Shahnawaz was facing a serious murder charge, people from his village were quite generous in their assessment. They unanimously declared that he was a good man for his village, despite his dodgy character. “He scarcely came to the village, but his behaviour with the villagers was always good,” Mohammad Hanif told ThePrint, a short distance from Shahnawaz’s house.  


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Najibabad’s fortified house

Haji Ehsan was the BSP incharge of Najibabad, which is just a few kilometres away from Kanakpur. Ever since the murders, Ehsan’s house in the village remains locked. It is, however, fortified with barbed wires and CCTV cameras, indicating that the family still lives under terror.

Ehsan used to live here with his first wife and three children. Nazakat Husain from the same village said, “As a neighbour any praise for him will be too little. After his murder the entire family has shifted to Delhi. Now they  come only on select occasions. As far as I know, he had two daughters and a son from this marriage.”

Another neighbour Shadaba told ThePrint that he heard Shahnawaz’s name for the first time after the murder. “From the media reports we got to know that there was some sort of property dispute between the two. The current fortification of the house was carried out after his murder so that no further damage occurs to his family members.” 

Haji Ehsan's house in Najibabad | Manisha Mondal |ThePrint
Haji Ehsan’s house in Najibabad | Manisha Mondal |ThePrint

Abdul Mannan, brother of Ehsan’s second wife Rizwana, lives at Keeratpur block that is a short distance from Najibabad. Mannan is a Samajwadi Party leader and is also the chairman of the block. Suhail accused Mannan of being deeply involved in his brother’s murder.

According to him, Mannan hatched this entire conspiracy with his sister Rizwana’s help. Suhail accused Rizwana of smuggling the pistols inside the court for her son Sahil and his two associates. A close associate of Mannan told ThePrint, on the condition of anonymity, that Ehsan was the BSP chairman and was going to get an MLA ticket in the next election. 

The associate added that Shahnawaz also wanted to contest assembly elections from the BSP. “He demanded Rs. 20 lakh from Ehsan as an extortion amount, who gave him Rs. 5 lakh. However, when Ehsan refused to give more, in order to maintain his political dominance, Shahnawaz got them killed. Ehsan and his nephew were shot dead by Jabbar when they were offering daily namaz”. 

SP Tyagi told ThePrint, “At the time of the shooting incident Shahnawaz’s associate Jabbar was also in the court campus. In the chaos that followed, he managed to escape and Ehsan’s family might be facing grave danger now. We are making all efforts to arrest him as soon as possible.” 

On the allegations being levelled against Mannan he said, ”We are currently processing this information. If we manage to identify his role in this, then action will surely be taken against him.”


Also read: Don’t just blame India’s courts, it’s the police that can’t solve criminal cases in time


A disturbed son

Haji’s son Sahil was a class eleven student at Modern Era Public School, an English-medium school in Bijnor. His family wanted him to become a doctor but he reportedly became disturbed after his father’s murder. After firing the bullets in the court campus, he repeatedly said that he had now avenged his Abba’s death. Rizwana, Ehsan’s second wife, is a lawyer and lives in Bijnor with Sahil and his younger brother. 

Sahil was a Class 11 student in Modern Era Public School in Bijnor | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Sahil was a Class 11 student in Modern Era Public School in Bijnor | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

“Shahnawaz was Mukhtar Ansari’s shooter. People in the area were scared of him. Nobody filed an FIR in the Ehsan murder case. Then Mannan bhai took up the fight. He (Shahnawaz) had once detained police personnel too,” said one of Ehsan’s relatives on the condition of anonymity. 

The relative added that Shahnawaz’s property was to be attached in another case but his family members dodged the confiscation process by saying that he was debarred from the family. His younger brother Shah Alam is also behind bars in the same double-murder case.

On the court shooting, the SP Tyagi said that strict action has been taken because of the security lapse and as many as 18 police personnel have been suspended. 

Sanjay Bishnoi, a professional lawyer who also runs a general store shop a short distance from the district court said that even though the city has witnessed a lot of criminal incidents, this is the first time that three boys managed to sneak inside the court campus and open fired.

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