The Vikas Dubey episode undercuts Uttar Pradesh’s efforts to be a viable global investment destination

| Updated on July 10, 2020 Published on July 10, 2020

The State must create a stable ecosystem signified by rule of law and social cohesion

Over the past few months, the Uttar Pradesh government has come up with innumerable incentives to attract global investors who are trying to relocate from China. Besides promulgating the Temporary Exemption Ordinance, 2020, that offers a three-year exemption to employers from labour laws, it is developing 11 new airports, expressways and metro rail systems in Kanpur, Agra, Varanasi and Prayagraj. However, the focus on growth and investment will be all but undone if the State fails to create a stable ecosystem signified by rule of law and social cohesion. Events of the past one week signify a high degree of instability and crime, with the State’s law and order machinery having been exposed as corrupt and unprofessional.

In the heart of UP’s industrial belt, in Bikru village, Kanpur, eight policemen were killed on July 3 when they went to arrest Vikas Dubey who was at large for years despite his alleged involvement in 60 cases of murder, kidnapping and extortion. Even as the media frenzy grew around his links with politicians and within the police force, some of whom had reportedly tipped him off about the arrest raid, Dubey absconded. Five of Dubey’s known associates were gunned down by the police in less than a week. One of them, Prabhat, was arrested from Faridabad in Haryana and shot dead while being brought back to UP. This was hours before Dubey’s dramatic arrest from the iconic Mahakal temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday. Finally, the police claimed, Dubey himself had to be “encountered” because he, like Prabhat, tried to snatch a policeman’s weapon and run. The spectacle of trigger-happy policemen gunning down suspects seems to have been normalised here, highlighting a thriving nexus of criminals with the police and the politicians.

Around 200 police personnel in UP are reportedly under investigation for their links with Dubey. He was acquitted in the murder of BJP leader Santosh Shukla in police custody. If the political establishment in UP is serious about setting the State on a path of progress and peace, its immediate task is to restore rule of law. An independent investigation into the custodial killing of Dubey and his associates is an absolute must. The process of a parallel magisterial inquiry has been mandated through Section 176(1A) of the CrPC. This empowers the judicial magistrate or the metropolitan magistrate within whose jurisdiction the offences of death, disappearance or rape in police custody have been committed to hold an inquiry, in addition to the police investigation. Any delay here will reaffirm UP’s dubious distinction as the basket-case State in India’s economy.

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Published on July 10, 2020
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