The Vikas Dubey Saga: A politics-crime Nexus
By: Amrisha Srivastava
A week after 8 policemen from Uttar Pradesh were killed in a shoot-out, the accused Vikas Dubey- ‘Kanpur Wala’ was allegedly encountered in the wee hours of 10th July 2020.
A 30-year-old with aspirations to become a ‘Bada Aadmi’ walked the Uttar Pradesh badlands virtually unknown until the last few weeks. With over 60 cases and several court trials against him since 1999, the gangster clearly had something more than merely pure luck to fall back upon in his story, which now remains untold.
WHO WAS VIKAS DUBEY?
Vikas Dubey was a resident of Bikaru, Chaubeypur District, Uttar Pradesh, who in his youth had been so inspired by the film ‘Arjun Pandit’ that he gave himself the title of ‘Vikas Pandit’ and led his own gang- which until recently had evolved into a crime-caste nexus mafia.
Being responsible for various criminal activities like murder, ransom, robbery, kidnapping etc., the gangster acquired his stature when he was held as prime accused of the murder of BJP leader Santosh Shukla who was the Minister of State in 2001 when BJP was in power under Rajnath Singh in Uttar Pradesh. The murder of the member of the ruling party took place in a police station, with about 25 police officers as eye-witnesses and yet, Panditji was acquitted.
Therefore, it is assumed that Vikas Dubey had connections with almost all political parties in UP- the BJP, the SP, the BSP- which were previously in power here. He built his crimedom in close association with local officers and politicians alike and served as a ‘vote bank’ for them.
By the time that he murdered the BJP leader, he already had 62 cases under his name, including 5 of murder and 8 of attempt to murder.
In an interview which dates back to 2006, he said that he had been the Pradhan of Bikru Village for 10 years and then became a Zila Panchayat member. He also mentioned that he had the patronage of Hari Krishna Srivastava (Speaker in 1990-91 during Mulayam Singh government). In a later interview of 2017, he is seen talking about his links with BJP MLAs- Abhijeet Sanga and Bhagwati Sagar.
Hence, Vikas Dubey was a gang leader with both power and connections in and outside the system.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
After the 3rd July shoot-out at Kanpur of 8 police officers, a series of custodial killings and arrests followed. It is alleged that Dubey was ‘tipped off’ in advance and hence managed to escape. On the same day, two of Panditji’s henchmen, Prem Prakash Pandey and Atul Dubey were killed in an encounter.
On 4th July, UP police arrested Jay Vajpayi, an accountant of Vikas Dubey and demolished his house. On the next day, another henchman, Shankar Agnihotri was shot in the leg and was arrested.
The next day Devendra Mishra, who led the police team on July 3rd, in a letter to SSP Kanpur, wrote that a local officer, Vinay Tiwari, had diluted the police case.
On July 7th, the DIG was removed and Vikas Dubey was spotted in Faridabad.
Vinay Tiwari was removed from office the next day.
Prabhat Mishra, Praveen Dubey, Ranbir Shukla and Amar Dubey, the allies of Vikas Dubey, were killed in encounters on July 9th, with all the stories following the same ‘snatched the revolver and ran away’ narrative.
Is it so easy for criminals to snatch and run away revolvers of injured cops in a place surrounded and outnumbered by the police?
And then, to our surprise, Vikas Dubey was taken into custody by MP police from Mahakal Mandir, Ujjain and was encountered the next day.
On 13th July, Dubey's father died of a heart attack.
WAS IT A FAUX ENCOUNTER?
The realisation of several netizens' prediction of the encounter on July 10th tells a lot about the ‘pandemic existing within the system'. Rajdeep Sardesai wrote on twitter, notably prior to even the arrest of Dubey in Ujjain, ‘A retired IPS officer tells me that in his sense and opinion, it is unlikely that Vikas Dubey will be caught; he and associates will most probably be encountered because they know too many secrets about too many big people.’
According to UP Police, the vehicle in which Vikas Dubey was supposedly in, met a serious accident- it turned over and injured the police officers seated in with Dubey. He snatched one of the police officer’s revolvers, tried to run away and threatened to make an attempt on the life of the cops, so the cops had to encounter him as a measure of self-defence. Being shot in the waist and injured badly, he was rushed to the hospital in pouring rain, only to be found dead after the passage of little time
Sadly, a number of loopholes exist in this encounter. As an example, why was the media coerced to stop 2 kilometres before the site of ‘accident’ by cops which were already present there?
As the vehicle was not speeding, how did it turn over at a place where there were no dividers?
If the vehicle did turn, how is it practically feasible for Dubey to not be injured enough to run away with a cop’s revolver and attempt to shoot with an intention to kill?
Or did the UP Police conveniently forget to handcuff a gangster with such a large number of criminal cases?
As reported by locals present at the time of the alleged encounter, they did not hear any sound of vehicular accidents but only gunshots.
No tire marks of the skidded vehicle were found.
Also as pointed out by N.C. Asthana, a retired police officer, ‘The vehicle is seen lying conveniently on its side, all doors closed. Note the road condition- no reasons for it to overturn so softly. Open fields all around! Even a fool with a paunch would not consider running away in the open.’ Rahul Ranwal also mentioned, ‘Minutes before #VikasDubey encounter, the gangster was filmed at a toll plaza travelling in a Tata Safari. The vehicle that turned turtle in which Dubey was supposedly travelling was a Mahindra TUV 300. The cops didn’t even bother to try hard to cover their tracks!’
Maybe UP police would have to put more imagination and effort to make the story of the next Vikas Dubey more realistic because, for this time, the ball is not in their court.
WHY SHOULD THIS ENCOUNTER NOT BE SUPPORTED?
Now you may say that the encounter was a good step because if the matter was in the hands of the judiciary, there would have been tiresome decade-long cases and the culprit would have been ultimately released on bail. I might agree with your assertion for a second because Dubey was a criminal.
But then, that would have been an encounter of institutions. The three pillars of the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary work together in a system so as to complement the functioning of the legal system and if one of them had to acquire complete control, why did our Founders even make the others?
Yes, there are flaws in our third pillar but we just cannot uproot it. The death of policemen cannot be avenged by encounters of criminals.
Justice delayed might be justice denied but justice hurried is justice buried.
There were many white collar-ed criminals who nurtured Vikas Dubey into who he was and now they sleep a good night's sleep only because too many secrets were buried with his death. Someday, if not today, there would be another Vikas Dubey, nurtured by the same people in a police-political-crime nexus who will be encountered again for selfish treacheries.
ADMINISTRATION AND ALLEGED FAKE ENCOUNTERS
Six months after Adityanath's government came into power in UP, a report listing all the encounters during that time was released and applauded by the Government as an achievement. Yogi Adityanath, in so many words after being elected, said that if you commit a crime, you shall be killed.
The SC guidelines of encounters, 2014, state that every individual has the right to life under Article 21 and hence, the police must make required attempts to avoid the encounter and there shall be no out of turn gallantry awards for the officers involved in encounter killings. Yet, the UP Government continues to glorify encounters with as much as 1 lakh rupees prize given to the team involved in the encounter.
Ajay Pal Sharma, of Shamli, who has undertaken over 30 encounters was taken on a chariot ride all over the town in order to honour him.
Neha Dixit, a freelance journalist, mentioned in a report that there had been as many as 5000 encounters 2017 onwards, of which 90 per cent of cases were not enquired. The encountered people were never in the most wanted criminal list but had petty crimes on their names like stealing 8,000 rupees or a gold ring. Many of them did not even know how to ride a bike or car but are said to have ridden it during the encounter to fit into the same old ‘snatched the revolver and ran away’ narrative. The families received no post-mortem report and most of them were dead on arrival at the hospital. There were cases of a broken skull or of broken bones etc., indicating that they were beaten before being shot.
In Agra zone, which accounts for 241 encounters since the BJP government, two reporters of India Today went undercover to check on the prevailing 'cash for encounter’ scheme and a sub-inspector agreed to gun down an innocent for 8 lakh rupees. The encounter of an Apple Manager, Vivek Tiwari in Lucknow is alleged to be a similar case.
Dear readers, the discretion is yours. You can either be complacent with the same predictable story or dig deeper into the root causes and solutions of this. For you could be the next innocent who would be "encountered" to either frame someone or save someone's name.