The Chronicle of the Rise and Fall of Mafia Raj in Purvanchal

The narrative of Mafia Raj in Purvanchal was one shrouded in fear and lawlessness. Figures like Harishankar Tiwari, Mukhtar Ansari, and Shri Prakash Shukla held sway over vast territories, dictating terms through fear and intimidation.

Awanish Vidyarthi
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Uttar Pradesh Mafia Raj
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The Purvanchal region in Uttar Pradesh, bordering Bihar, has long been notorious for its entrenched Mafia Raj. The recent passing of mafia don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari, purportedly from a heart attack in Banda jail, has once again thrust the region into the spotlight, highlighting the rivalries among the "Bahubalis".

The narrative of organized crime in Purvanchal, marked by extortion, gang conflicts, and rampant violence, encapsulates a story of perseverance, accountability, and transformation.


The narrative of Mafia Raj in Purvanchal was one shrouded in fear and lawlessness. Figures like Harishankar Tiwari, Mukhtar Ansari, and Shri Prakash Shukla held sway over vast territories, dictating terms through fear and intimidation. From the corridors of power to the dusty streets of rural towns, their influence cast a long shadow over the region, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Harishankar Tiwari, once a feared mafia don turned politician, epitomized the nexus between crime and politics in Purvanchal. His iron grip over Hathgaon and beyond struck fear into the hearts of both civilians and law enforcement alike.

However, the winds of change began to blow and Tiwari's once impenetrable fortress crumbled under the weight of legal scrutiny and administrative action, marking the end of an era dominated by criminal overlords.

Mukhtar Ansari


Mukhtar Ansari


Mukhtar Ansari who passed away due to a suspected heart-attack in Banda jail, emerged as a prominent figure in the criminal underworld during the 1990s to the mid-2000s, casting a shadow of fear across Purvanchal with his brazen displays of violence and intimidation. Known for openly brandishing weapons and orchestrating acts of terror, Ansari instilled fear in the hearts of the people through his ruthless methods.


His involvement in the murder of MLA Krishnanand Rai stands as a grim reminder of his reign of terror, where he wielded power with impunity. In the face of any opposition, Ansari relied on his network of associates to maintain his stranglehold over the region. His rivalry with mafia Brijesh Singh often erupted into violent clashes, especially over lucrative government tenders.


The year 2005 marked a turning point in Ansari's criminal career when he was implicated in the murder case of MLA Krishnanand Rai, who had close ties with Singh. Despite being an elected MLA at the time, Ansari's criminal activities caught up with him, leading to his incarceration.


The Yogi Adityanath government led a crackdown on organized crime syndicates in Uttar Pradesh like Ansari's. His ill-gotten properties and businesses were targeted by law enforcement, signaling an end to his reign of terror. According to reports from the UP Police, assets worth more than 1000 crores belonging to Ansari were seized as part of the government's efforts to dismantle his criminal empire.

Atiq and Ashraf Ahmad 

Ashraf Ahmad

From 1980 until 2015, the ominous presence of brothers Atiq and Ashraf Ahmad cast a long shadow over Purvanchal, instilling fear in the hearts of its inhabitants. However, with the advent of Yogi Adityanath's governance in 2017, this reign of terror began to wane. Both Atiq and Ashraf met their demise while in police custody, as shooters unleashed a hail of bullets, abruptly ending their lives. 

Notorious for their penchant for seizing land and properties, Atiq and Ashraf wielded considerable influence in both the criminal underworld and political arena. Their ascension to seats in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, with Atiq Ahmad also holding a position as a Member of Parliament from the Phulpur constituency, solidified their grip on power. However, their empire crumbled following the encounter death of Umesh Pal in 2023, a prelude to their own demise in a subsequent attack. Presently, their two sons languish in prison, while their wives have been declared fugitive, evading capture.


Dhananjay Singh


Dhananjay Singh

Dhananjay Singh, a prominent figure in the landscape of organized crime stretching from Purvanchal to Lucknow, was renowned for his involvement in gang warfare over lucrative railway contracts and government tenders. His convoy, consisting of identical cars, served as a symbol of his authority and influence. Rising from the ranks to become an MP from Jaunpur and later an MLA, Singh amassed considerable wealth and power. Despite his wife's current position as district panchayat president of Jaunpur and the support he commands in the area, Singh's political aspirations have been dashed by his incarceration following criminal convictions. As he prepares to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024, Singh's past indiscretions loom large, serving as a stark reminder of the consequences of succumbing to the temptations of criminality.

Dhananjay Singh, a name synonymous with gang warfare and corruption, also faced the consequences of his criminal activities. Despite his foray into politics and establishment of a vast criminal empire, Singh's ambitions were thwarted by the unyielding force of the law. His incarceration serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of indulging in criminality.

Brijesh Singh

Brijiesh Singh

During the era of mafia dominance in Purvanchal, a fierce rivalry raged between the factions led by Mukhtar Ansari and Brijesh Singh, particularly in the coal and extortion sectors. Brijesh Singh, once touted as one of the nation's most prominent "honest criminals," amassed a notorious reputation with his involvement in a multitude of criminal cases. Despite this, his family ventured into the political arena, with his brother Chulbul Singh and later his nephew Sushil Singh making forays into politics. Adding to their political clout, Singh's wife ascended to the position of MLA from Varanasi, while Singh himself secured an MLA seat.

The enmity between Singh and Ansari permeated every aspect of life in Purvanchal, sparking discussions in villages, streets, and neighborhoods. The infamous Usri shootout in Ghazipur, where Ansari's team found themselves surrounded by intense gunfire, stands as a testament to the ferocity of their conflict.


Singh reportedly made numerous attempts to eliminate Ansari, going to the extent of infiltrating police ranks with his associates to orchestrate Ansari's imprisonment. In turn, Ansari implicated many of his key shooters and associates in the murder of Singh.


This bitter feud between two of Purvanchal's most formidable underworld figures left a trail of bloodshed and chaos, marking a dark chapter in the region's history of organized crime.


Shri Prakash Shukla


Shri Prakash


For a brief yet impactful period, particularly in the Gorakhpur region of Purvanchal, Shri Prakash Shukla emerged as a prominent figure, drawing even the attention of established mafias in the area. With his involvement in major railway projects and extortion enterprises, Shukla harbored lofty ambitions, propelled by his desire for power and influence. However, his aspirations took a sinister turn when allegations of conspiring to assassinate the Chief Minister surfaced, tarnishing his reputation.


Shukla's foray into electoral politics further stoked tensions with Purvanchal's entrenched strongmen, as he sought to expand his sphere of influence. Operating a vast network for contract killings spanning Purvanchal and West Champaran, Bihar, Shukla's extravagant lifestyle, adorned with expensive clothing, high-end mobile phones, and modern weaponry, set him apart as a symbol of aspiration for many in Purvanchal.


Yet, as his ambitions soared, Shukla found himself embroiled in direct confrontations, ranging from abductions to contractual disputes. The ensuing gang wars claimed the lives of his associates, intensifying the animosity directed towards him. Ultimately, Shukla's audacious pursuits caught the attention of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF), culminating in a fatal encounter where he met his demise, ending his reign of terror in Purvanchal.


Virendra Pratap Shahi


Virendra Shahi

In the 1980s, while Hari Shankar Tiwari commanded prominence in Purvanchal, another figure, Virendra Pratap Shahi, was steadily rising. Shahi, a formidable presence known as a Bahubali, wielded considerable influence in the realm of crime stretching from Gorakhpur to Lucknow. Establishing a criminal empire intertwined with railway contracts and extortion, Shahi's ascent was cemented by his electoral victory from Lakshmipur in 1980. Notably, Shahi triumphed over another influential Bahubali, Amar Mani Tripathi, during this period, signaling a shift in power dynamics. Subsequently, the legislative assembly of Purvanchal witnessed a surge of Bahubalis, including figures like Amar Mani, Hari Shankar Tiwari, Ambika Singh, Mukhtar Ansari, Raja Bhaiya, Akhilesh Singh, and Ajit Singh, among others.


Under the governance of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, decisive measures were taken to combat terrorism, gang activity, and mafia influence. The Purvanchal region now stands at a pivotal crossroads of transformation, shedding its dark past. The administration pursued swift action against these threats, expediting legal proceedings, and ensuring witness protection. Various notorious gangs, including the Mukhtar-Atiq, Vijay Mishra, and Dhananjay factions, faced repercussions for their criminal activities.


Additionally, assets amassed through illicit means by these underworld elements were seized, dismantling their financial networks. The government also scrutinized the involvement of businessmen, allied contractors, and individuals associated with mining, education, coal, and liquor trades in facilitating criminal enterprises. Illegal assets were confiscated, while stringent regulations were imposed to curb further illicit activities, marking a significant crackdown on organized crime in Purvanchal.

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