KATHMANDU, March 10: In a major breach of security at the country´s largest jail, an Indian man entered with a firearm and shot Yunus Ansari, the controversial 41-year-old media magnate who is in jail on fake currency and drugs charges, on Thursday.
Jasjeet Singh, 42, a self-proclaimed contract killer from Lucknow, India, fired twice with his revolver at point blank range on meeting Ansari at the visitor´s lounge of the Central Jail. One bullet hit Ansari.
Ansari was injured in the left arm and is out of danger after undergoing immediate surgery at Norvic Hospital. Dramatic intervention by security guards prevented further injury.
Jasajeet Singh entered the Central Jail at around 11:30 a.m., purportedly to meet Charles Sobhraj, the notorious criminal who has been confined to the golghar (special cell with muliple restrictions).
As Singh made his way into the visiting lounge, Ansari was just about to part from his brother Amin Ansari and the latter´s wife. Investigative officials said that Singh fired at Ansari on seeing him, all in a flash.
Singh´s first shot missed. As he was aiming the second shot, a security guard, Bir Bahadur, who was standing with Ansari across the iron bar partition of the visiting room promptly pushed Ansari aside to save him while anther cop, Parmod Chaurasiya, struck Singh´s hand to foil him.
"The second bullet could have struck Ansari´s head but for the timely blow to the hand holding the revolver," said officials.
Cops took Singh under control after a brief struggle.
Ansari was rushed to Norvic Hospital at Thapathali where he was operated on for half-an-hour to extract the bullet.
According to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner´s Office (MPCO), which contacted media a few hours after the incident, Singh had arrived in Kathmandu on February 5 to execute a contract killing for Indian Rs 1.5 million, in a deal with two Indian nationals Suresh Dwivedi and Ramu Dwivedi, both from Lucknow. He had already received half the contract money and was to get the rest on completion of the mission.
The Dwivedi duo had met Singh at Kalanki and lodged him in a rented flat at Bode, Bhaktapur. During the past 35 days, Singh visited the Central Jail regularly to study Ansari´s movements.
Singh has stated during preliminary interrogations that he would meet only Shovraj when he visited the jail.
Singh has claimed to be a professional contract killer and to have shot five individuals in India in the past, killing two and injuring three.
Officials said that Singh hid his revolver in his groin to elude the security check at the jail entrance. The brawny, arrogant-looking gunman had pulled out his revolver through a hole in the pocket of his long jacket.
According to investigating officials, Singh did not show any remorse during interrogations. "He rather looked happy to be made public through media as he thought his own life was now not under threat in custody," officials said.
"I took up this mission because I was told that I would not be killed by police even after being arrested and would be released soon because of Nepal´s poor legal system," officials quoted him as saying.
In the wake of the incident worthy of becoming a prestige issue for the government, Nepal Police has formed two separate panels headed by Additional Inspector General (AIG) Rabindra Pratap Shah and SSP Hemanta Malla, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCO), respectively.
Meanwhile, Nepal Police has suspended Sub-inspector Laxman Bhandari and two constables--Manoj Karki and Tilak Ram Chaudhary--as immediate departmental action in connection with the incident.
“We are in the initial phase of investigations that show utter negligence on the part of the security officials concerned. This is not a security lapse as such,” said AIG Arjun Jung Shahi, MPCO chief.
Ansari family´s outcry
Salim Miya Ansari, father of Yunus Ansari and a former minister, has publicly alleged that the Indian intelligence organization RAW carried out this attack in a plan to "finish off a promising Muslim youth". He told reporters at the premises of Norvic Hospital that his family had not been allowed to meet Yunus for a month. “We were not even allowed to meet him while a gunman could freely enter and shoot him,” he said.
“Yunus had told me that he was under threat. He informed the authorities, who did not pay any attention,” Salim said and even alleged that Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajendra Singh Bhandari also assisted RAW in carrying out the attack.
The incident has taken place a year after Ansari told the police in the wake of Jamim Shah´s murder that he would have been murdered instead had he not been arrested on fake currency and drugs charges.
Ansari was arrested on January 2010 for allegedly trading in fake Indian currency notes and brown sugar in collusion with two Pakistani nationals. He has been serving time in judicial custody.
Police sources, meanwhile, said that investigations might bring to light the possible link of this incident to the Jamim Shah murder. Nepal Police has concluded that Bablu Srivastav, an Indian underworld kingpin who has been in a Lunknow jail for a few years, had ordered one Deepak Shahi alias Babbu Chhetri to kill Shah. Shah was shot dead in the capital in broad daylight.
Though Singh has said that he only met Shovraj while spying on Ansari´s movements, some jail sources have informed that he would meet other Indian criminals in the Central jail. But this is not corroborated by investigative officials.