Kathmandu: A former Nepali minister`s son, believed to be an associate of terror kingpin Dawood Ibrahim and arrested last year, was shot at inside Nepal`s most tightly guarded prison in Kathmandu in broad daylight Thursday. The shooter gave police two names and claimed to be from India.
Yunus Ansari, son of former controversial minister Salim Miyan Ansari, was shot inside Kathmandu`s Central Jail around 11.30 a.m., at a time the jail was crawling with policemen, informers and people visiting prisoners.
Police spokesman Navraj Dhakal told IANS a young man entered the sprawling jail complex posing as a visitor for notorious French national Charles Sobhraj, who is also lodged in the same jail for the murder of an American tourist.
The visitor was patted down by the policemen on guard duty and allowed inside. The search however failed to detect a service revolver the man was carrying in a concealed pocket in his bulky jacket.
He was shown into the long, narrow corridor like room where visitors meet prisoners publicly, with a wire mesh separating the two groups.
It was a planned operation since at that time Ansari was also in the visitors` room, talking to people who had come to visit him.
The man who said he had come to meet Sobhraj whipped out the gun and shot Ansari, hitting him in the shoulder.
He was caught by the prison guards and during the preliminary interrogation, gave police two names: Mohammad Ahmad Khan and Jaswant Singh and claimed to be from Bareilly town in India`s Uttar Pradesh state.
"However, both the names and the address could be fake," Dhakal said.
"Criminals tend to give fake names after they get caught."
Ansari was rushed to the Norvic hospital where he was declared out of danger.
Ansari had been arrested after being caught with fake Indian currency and drugs sent from Pakistan.
Security was immediately beefed up, both at the prison and at the hospital with visitors not allowed inside any more.
The attempt on Ansari comes a year after his associate, Nepali cable TV mogul Jamim Shah, was shot dead, also in broad daylight, in a public road in one of the most patrolled neighbourhoods in the capital.
Shah`s murderers were never found.
Ansari was also thought to have been on the hit list and his arrest providentially saved his life.
Ansari was arrested in January 2010 with fake Indian currency nominally worth Rs.2.5 million and nearly 4 kg of heroin that had been handed over to his bodyguard by a courier who had flown from Pakistan.
Though protesting his innocence, Ansari, however, opted to stay in prison after Shah`s killing and rumours that the killers were also gunning for him.
Gangster Bharat Nepali, a henchman of Indian don Babloo Srivastav, had claimed responsibility for the killing. Nepali was gunned down in Bangkok last year and Ansari`s killing could also be part of the gang warfare.
Yunus Ansari`s father Salim Miyan Ansari, a former forest minister from the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, criticised India and Nepal`s police force.
The former communist minister, also alleged to have mafia links, said both agencies were hand in glove and had colluded in the attack on his son.
The shooting exposes the rampant corruption in Nepal`s police force and prisons.
While visitors are subjected to a stringent scrutiny and have to leave mobile phones and even pen drives outside, Yunus` attacker managed to smuggle in a gun and bullets.
The same prison hit the headlines recently when it was found that some of the inmates were running extortion rackets from inside. One notorious prisoner was found to have gone to the coffee shop of a five-star hotel with police escort and was carrying almost NRS 800,000.
Ansari is also the owner of a private television station, National TV. So was Shah and the attempts on them have also been projected as attacks on the media.