Flashback 13 years ago. The BJP MLA from Ghazipur, Krishnanand Rai, was a strongman with an iron-like grip on the badlands of eastern UP. His only rival was ‘don’ Mukhtar Ansari, who was getting wary of Rai’s growing influence in the region.

Prem Prakash Singh, alias Munna Bajrangi, was then just a contract killer with a name for getting the ‘job’ done. Ansari reached out to Bajrangi and gave him a target – Rai. According to police records, it was for the first time in eastern UP that an AK-47 was used in gangland killings. Over 400 rounds were fired at Rai and six of his associates, with the ‘target’ alone showered with 100 bullets.

Overnight, Munna Bajrangi became a celebrity in the world of crime.

On Monday morning, this dreaded gangster of eastern UP and Mukhtar Ansari’s close aide was gunned down by his fellow inmate, and nemesis, Sunil Rathi at the district jail of Baghpat.

The conspiracy to eliminate Bajrangi was plotted a year ago, MAIL TODAY has learnt. Sources said Bajrangi’s transit to Baghpat jail on Sunday was a part of the plot – just to take him out of his lair and bring him to western UP where he had little clout.

Bajrangi was in jail for murdering Krishnanand Rai in 2005. UP Police, STF and CBI were on a lookout for him for years, with a reward of `7 lakh on his head. Law finally caught up with Bajrangi when he was arrested in Mumbai in 2009, where he was busy building inroads into the underworld.

Sunil Rathi, who allegedly fired the gun inside Baghpat jail, had an enmity with Bajrangi for nearly a decade. That was because Bajrangi patronised Pintu Pandit, a notorious criminal of western UP, and Rathi’s rival. The reason behind the rivalry was predictable: Who had more sway over the UPUttarakhand crime belt.

Rathi was shifted from Roorki to Baghpat jail in July 2017, being convicted in an extortion case. Ever since then, there was pressure on police to transfer Bajrangi to Baghpat too. Being a high risk prisoner, the eastern UP ‘don’ was never removed from Jhansi jail since his arrest in 2009.

According to police, his production in different cases was made through video-conferencing, but Baghpat police insisted on his transit remand to collect a voice sample. His lawyer alleged that police had already collected his voice sample and there was no need to take him to Baghpat. “We had already informed the court that that his voice samples (in connection with an extortion case) has been collected. Then what was the need to take him to Baghpat? Is it not a conspiracy?” said Vikas Srivastava, his lawyer.

Bajrangi, who was involved in over 40 cases of murder, loot, kidnapping and extortion, was brought from Jhansi district jail to Baghpat jail on transit remand on Sunday and was to be produced before court on Monday.

“Around 6 am, Bajrangi had an altercation with Rathi on the jail premises following which the latter shot him. Rathi shot at Bajrangi with a pistol,” UP additional DG (jail) Chandra Prakash said, without explaining how Rathi managed to get a pistol in the jail. The officer, however, said a probe has been ordered into the lapses. The ADG initially claimed that Rathi threw the gun in a drain after the murder, but late on Monday, police recovered it along with two magazines and 22 bullets.

Munna Bajrangi: A terror even for dreaded criminals

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