Confusion prevails over the roots of Mohammad Ansar Sheikh, the main accused in the communal violence case that broke out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on 16 April when Muslims of the neighbourhood attacked a Hindu procession, tbe Hanuman Jayanti Shobhayatra. Although he owns a luxurious mansion at Kumarpur in Haldia, West Bengal, a major industrial settlement in District East Midnapore near Kolkata, his name is not on the local voters’ list.
A top official of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal said on the condition of anonymity that after contacting the crime branch of Kolkata Police, the CID probed Ansar’s past and his links with Haldia.
Multiple theories about political affiliation
The CID official said, “Though there are several theories about Ansar Sheikh’s political affiliations, we could not find any definitive information about his active political involvement, at least in Haldia and East Midnapore, whether in the past or now.”
The second confusion is over his roots. While some sources have claimed that he was originally from Assam, some others claimed that he was actually from Bihar.
A highly placed source in West Bengal CID told news agency IANS that following a communication from the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, the state CID enquired about Ansar’s activities in Haldia. Moreover, a team of Delhi Police is likely to reach West Bengal for further investigation. “From there we came to know that although Ansar is an original resident of Assam, he married into a family which had been living in Haldia for a long time. Soon after his marriage, Ansar built up a mansion in Haldia and used to frequently come here,” the CID source told IANS.
Mohammed Ansar Sheikh’s association with Haldia began when he married a local woman and later built a two-storey house there. Locals say Ansar Shaikh’s parents-in-law come from a very modest economic background. After marriage, his lifestyle underwent a remarkable change. Ansar has been an ideal son-in-law according to the local people.
Meanwhile, another controversy has arisen over the contradictory statements made by Sheikh Azizul (Aziz ur) Rehman, the Trinamool Congress councillor from ward number 15 of Haldia. Ansar’s picture with Rahman had gone viral on 21 April. That day, Rehman had claimed that though he knew Ansar as a local citizen of Haldia, he did not remember where the picture was clicked.
But now the Trinamool Congress leader is claiming that the picture was clicked in Delhi in 2019.
Rahman is also a member of the Chairman-in-Council of Haldia Municipality. He claimed, “I had gone to Delhi with my family and from there we were to go to Manali. Hearing that I was in Delhi, Ansar came to meet me, because we knew each other. That’s when the picture was clicked. This was my last conversation with him.”
Ansar built an image of a philanthropist in Haldia with social service in order to deflect people’s attention from his dubious activities, sources in different intelligence agencies say. He is also quite popular among the neighbours, as whenever he visited Haldia, he arranged feasts in his haveli and invite neighbours to them.
During the course of interrogation, sources say, Ansar confessed his involvement in drug peddling. They claimed that with his illegal trade the accused minted money and used it to create a gangster-type image in Jahangirpuri. Ansar initially started dealing with a scrap business and subsequently got into the shady business of supplying heroin and smack.
“He was apprehensive that if he were to be caught supplying narcotic substances, he would be awarded a long jail term. This fear led him to end his drug peddling business. Ansar then started running ‘satta’ in North-West Delhi,” claimed one of the sources.
The sources have claimed that a few photos of Ansar with a BMW car were accessed by the police. In one of the photos he was seen standing on the bonnet of the car. The car belonged to a south Delhi-based businessman. “It was a disputed BMW car and Ansar had taken its illegal custody using his criminal background. Later, he gave the car to someone who lived in West Bengal,” the source claimed.
The owner of the car had lodged a case with Delhi Police. Later, the police interrogated Ansar in which he broke down and brought back a BMW car from West Bengal. It was then handed over to its real owner. The Crime Branch is now looking into the wide network of his racket.