Rasheeda Bhagat

A don’s death and underworld’s law of silence

Rasheeda Bhagat | Updated on July 13, 2020

Too dangerous: To get him talking

Had the UP gangster reached a court, many a politician and bureaucrat would have been exposed

“Vikas is officially dead,” screamed several posts on Twitter; a double play on the shooting of the UP gangster Vikas Dubey in a police encounter. A more hard-hitting tweet had just words: ‘Pawn is killed’.

The extra-judicial killing last week of the notorious gangster in a police “encounter”, which had all the dubious ingredients of a C-grade Indian movie, is much more than a sordid saga of police high-handedness. The holes in the police version were one too many — his shifting from one vehicle to another while being taken from Ujjain to Kanpur; the mysterious overturning of his vehicle on a smooth road; the delaying at a check-post of journalists following the police vehicles, and, finally, a dangerous criminal, whose gang had only recently ambushed and murdered eight policemen, being transported without handcuffs.

Senior-most police officers — all retired of course as the cat gets the tongue of most serving IAS and IPS officers — have called it a fake encounter and blown to smithereens the police version of the encounter. That he would be captured was a foregone conclusion the moment his gang murdered the eight policemen in Kanpur last month. When the police really want to catch a criminal, they do. Period.

And notorious criminals who have had a meteoric rise, particularly in a State such as Uttar Pradesh, known for the nexus between crime and politics, cannot be allowed to reach a court for prolonged judicial trial. That is the law of the jungle in which the dons, political bosses and corrupt policemen operate.

One sure indication of the fury with which the UP police went after him was the manner in which his house was razed to the ground, using the same bulldozer that the gangster had used to prevent the policemen from entering his house during the first raid.

A new normal in UP’s jungle raj: The police don’t need a court order to demolish a building. Or, to attach properties of whichever Muslims the State pleases, for participating in anti-citizenship law protests.

Had Vikas Dubey been allowed to remain alive, give testimony to the police and undergo a judicial trial, God alone knows how many politicians he would have taken down with him; not to mention a top police officer or two. While his close ties to the Samajwadi Party are well known, criminals like Dubey attract all hues, particularly those in power. Not only was there all-round celebration when Dubey was killed, BJP politicians, including the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister who took credit for Dubey’s arrest in Ujjain, were incredulous about “libtards” objecting to the shooting down of Dubey. Why are they mourning the death of a criminal, they asked in wonder.

The all-round sigh of relief, and even jubilation at the killing of the gangster, though expected, was still shocking. There must have been too many petrified of Dubey singing like a canary, under genuine police questioning. So the adage “dead men tell no tales”, suited everyone.

Stifling of justice

Dubey’s confession could have brought within the ambit of law so many other criminals — in politics, police, bureaucracy and who knows where else. Interestingly enough, how serious the Yogi government in UP is about getting behind the truth in the encounter of Dubey can be seen from the composition of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) announced to probe this encounter.

One of the three officers named, DIG Ravindra Goud, was himself charge-sheeted by the CBI for a fake encounter 13 years ago in Bareilly, in which a young medicine trader, Mukul Gupta, was gunned down in 2007. His father had asked for a CBI probe, and the CBI had charge-sheeted in 2014 Gupta, along with nine other policemen in the encounter party. However, the Samajwadi Party, then ruling UP, did not give sanction for prosecution against him and the subsequent BJP governments, including the present one, continues to protect him. This was revealed by a local afternoon daily 4 PM, and then picked up by a senior UP journalist, Sharat Pradhan, and reported by The Wire.

So, a brief spark of hope ignited by Dubey’s capture is dead in a flash. Criminals, backed by politicians and senior officers, who profit from them, continue to roam free, till they outrage another powerful group — that in khakhi.

This khakhi clan unleashes its own brand of violence and torture, as recently seen in the custodial deaths of a father and son in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Or, just looks the other way when those it befriends thrash, loot and kill the helpless, as happened in the recent Delhi riots.

Published on July 13, 2020

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