Three prisoners, including a member of Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Mukhtar Ansari's gang, were shot dead inside the Chitrakoot district jail on Friday after which the Uttar Pradesh government suspended two jail officials, police said.
The three inmates gunned down in the district jail at Ragauli were identified by police as Anshu Dixit, Merazuddin alias Meraj Ali and Mukeem Kala, belonging to Sitapur, Ghazipur and Shamli, respectively, in Uttar Pradesh.
"Dixit shot dead Ali and Kala, and held some other prisoners at gunpoint and threatened to kill them. He was later killed in an exchange of fire with police," Chitrakoot Range Inspector General of Police K Satyanarain said.
Asked about how a firearm reached Dixit inside the jail, the IG said, "A judicial probe of the incident has been ordered. Only after the probe, it can be concluded how the weapon reached inside the jail."
Jail Superintendent S P Tripathi, however, had earlier said Dixit had snatched the service revolver of a jail staff when the official had intervened in an argument among the inmates.
IG Satyanarain said all three inmates were hardcore criminals and had several criminal cases pending against them.
Taking note of the incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered a probe into the incident by a joint team of Divisional Commissioner D K Singh, IG Satyanarain and DIG (Prison) Sanjeev Tripathi.
After the initial probe report, the state government suspended two jail officials -- Jail Superintendent S P Tripathi and Jailor Mahendra Pal.
"The state government has suspended S P Tripathi and Pal after they were found, prima facie, guilty of the security lapse in the jail. A departmental enquiry has also been initiated against them," a senior official told PTI.
In place of the suspended officials, Jail Superintendent of Kasganj A K Sagar and Jailor, Ayodhya C P Tripathi have been transferred to Chitrakoot in the same capacity, the official said.
Police said Sitapur resident Dixit was a contract killer and had been lodged in the jail since December 8, 2019.
Dixit had in the past worked for gangster Munna Bajrangi, accused of killing former BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai in 2005 in collusion with BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari, they said.
Bajrangi was shot dead by another gangster Sunil Rathi earlier on July 9, 2018 in a similar shootout inside Baghpat jail, the police said.
Detailing Shamli resident Kala's alleged criminal antecedents, police said he was involved in 61 cases of murder, dacoity and extortion.
In 2016, Kala had been accused by the Bharatiya Janata Party of being behind triggering a mass exodus of Hindus from Kairana in Shamli district, the police said adding Kala had been brought to the Ragauli jail from Saharanpur on May 7.
Ali, the third prisoner killed inside Ragauli jail, was allegedly an active member of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari's gang.
Ali was shifted to Chitrakoot on March 20 from Varanasi jail.
The situation inside the jail is now under control, police added.