A court in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda on Friday ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari after he died of a cardiac arrest in prison on Thursday night, reported PTI.

Ansari, who was lodged in the Banda district jail, fell unconscious and was taken to the Rani Durgawati Medical College in Banda. “A team of nine doctors gave him immediate medical assistance,” read a statement by the hospital. “Despite best efforts, he died due to cardiac arrest.”

On Friday, Banda Chief Judicial Magistrate Bhagwan Das Gupta appointed Garima Singh, the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of the district’s special MP-MLA as the investigating officer and sought her report in the case within a month.

Ansari had been hospitalised for about 14 hours on Tuesday after he complained of abdominal pain.

Ansari, a former legislator from Mau, had a total of 65 cases against him. He had been in jail since 2005 after he surrendered to the police in connection with a communal riot that took place in the town of Mau.

On March 14, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special MP-MLA court in the 34-year-old Ghazipur fake arms licence case. This was Ansari’s seventh conviction in the past 18 months.

Mukhtar Ansari’s son, Umar Ansari, has alleged that his father was poisoned in prison.

“Two days ago, I came to meet him, but I was not allowed,” Umar Ansari was quoted as saying by ANI. “We said earlier also and even today we will say the same about the allegation of giving slow poison. On March 19, he was poisoned in the dinner. We will move to the judiciary, we have full faith in it.”

On Friday, Umar Ansari wrote a letter to the Banda district magistrate demanding that the post-mortem of his father be conducted by doctors from the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, reported ANI. He said that the family does not trust the medical system in Banda.

On March 21, a special MP-MLA court in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, sought a report from the jail superintendent after Mukhtar Ansari moved an application alleging that his meal had been poisoned on at least two occasions in 40 days, reported The Wire.

In December, Umar Ansari had approached the Supreme Court alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state was planning to assassinate his father in the Banda district jail.

On Friday, the police imposed prohibitory orders under the Code of Criminal Procedure in several parts of the state amid speculation over the circumstances leading to Mukhtar Ansari’s death, reported The Indian Express.

Personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force and the local police have been deployed in Banda, Mau, Ghazipur and Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Prashant Kumar told PTI.

Opposition seeks probe into Ansari’s death

On Friday, Opposition leaders also demanded a judicial investigation into the death of the gangster-turned-politician.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanded an inquiry into the death, while Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav sought a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into all custodial deaths in Uttar Pradesh.

“The persistent apprehensions and serious allegations made by Mukhtar Ansari’s family regarding his death in jail require a high-level investigation so that the true facts of his death can be revealed.” The Bahujan Samaj Party chief said in a post on X.