Encounter politics prevails

Vikas Dubey’s killing yet again points to the politicians-police-criminals nexus, which is abetting criminalisation of politics and politicisation of crimes in the country, writes MUDIT MATHUR

Even before the expected exposures of his deep-rooted nexus with the high echelon in power, under whose shelter he rose high in the world of the crimes, the dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey was shot dead by the Special Task Force (STF) and Uttar Pradesh Police early on July 10 in an alleged encounter in transit after taking his custody from Madhya Pradesh Police. The don had surrendered alive in Ujjain before MP Police but was brought dead by UP Police, ostensibly burying many secrets close to his heart about his strong association with political leaders and people in power pointing at deep nexus between cops, gangsters and political leaders that posed real threat to the country’s democracy.

The story of the apparent encounter in the police’s custody raised many questions with wide suspicion. Mystery surrounds over the narrated circumstances under which the encounter killing took place of an accused who surrendered himself and got arrested to face justice in the court of law as he was running from pillar to post to evade his encounter killing.

The questions with regard to allegations of extrajudicial killing gained ground after the sudden police action to bar the movement of several media persons who were following the police convoy ferrying Dubey from Madhya Pradesh to Kanpur city of UP after his surrender at a public place. Minutes later, the encounter had taken place.

In the encounter, Vikas had three bullet injuries on his chest and one on his arm. Four personnel of STF were also sustained minor injuries during the encounter. National media and news channels gave minute-to-minute details questioning circumstances and genuineness of the claim of encounter killing by the UP Police.

Earlier, UP Police had carried out five encounters and gunned down Dubey’s closest aides, including his cousin Atul Dubey, maternal uncle Prem Prakash Pandey, his driver and sharp shooter Amar Dubey, Bahua aka Praveen Dubey and Kartikeya aka Prabhat Mishra. The police narrated almost identical story of encounter of Vikas and Kartik aka Prabhat Mishra. Police also crack downed his gang members, arresting several persons including Dubey’s aide Dayashankar Agnihotri alias ‘Kallu’ from the Kalyanpur locality of Kanpur after he was shot at in the leg. He later confirmed to the police that Vikas got a tip off by someone from the police station about raid and this led to suspension and arrest of the SHO Chaubeypur, Vinay Tiwari, and sub Inspector KK Sharma.

Earlier on July 9, Vikas Dubey, 48, the main accused in the murder of eight policemen including a deputy superintendent of police in Bikru village under Chaubeypur police station of Kanpur Dehat, had got himself dramatically arrested from the Ujjain Mahakaleshwar temple complex in Madhya Pradesh in a full public view. In a way, it could also be called a sponsored surrender with the alleged help of some political leaders and a local businessman.

The incident ignited severe criticism at the national level and opposition leaders questioned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s much publicised flambouyant claims about the state’s law and order situation and elimination of ‘Goons Rule’ as he used to term Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party rule.

Notorious don was arrested after a series of encounters and a massive manhunt by specially formed 25 teams and Special Task force (STF). He had allegedly escaped from his tracked hideout in Faridabad where police caught three of his accomplices. Many police personnel are also facing an investigation over their links with the notorious gangster.

Reports suggest that the gangster had a long-running feud with deputy superintendent Devendra Mishra, one of the eight officials ambushed by Dubey’s men in Bikru village near Kanpur city, according to a person involved in the investigation into the July 3 attack on the policemen.

“The seeds of their rivalry were sown almost 22 year ago when Devendra Mishra was a head constable. Over the years, Mishra rose to the rank of deputy SP,” a Kanpur police inspector revealed after interacting with Mishra’s family members.

Dubey shot to fame in the world of crimes when in 2001, he chased and shot down a prominent BJP leader and designated state minister as chairman Santosh Kumar Shukla inside the premises of Shivli police station where Shukla had sought refuge. And he did not spare the cops either; two of them were also gunned down by him. Rajnath Singh of the BJP was chief minister at the time. Since then, he was synonym of terror in the entire region for his criminal activities that ranged from murders, loot, extortion, land-house grabbing and assault to kidnapping for ransom. The dreaded gangster always got away even as more than 60 criminal cases, including 11 of murders were still pending against him. He was acquitted in the crime where police men were supposed to be the credible key eye witnesses of the crime scene. Even the driver of BJP leader turned hostile during trial giving him walk free.

Before the encounter, police surveillance team had scanned over 500 mobiles phones to retrieve information on Dubey’s whereabouts. An initial cash reward of  50,000 on him was declared but it was finally increased to  5 lakh. The gangster was finally nabbed and arrested by Madhya Pradesh Police in Ujjain.

Eight policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police, were bushwhacked in Bikru village in the Chaubeypur area of Kanpur, where they had gone to arrest Vikas Dubey and fell to bullets fired from rooftops on intervening night of 2/3 July. Seven others, including a civilian, were injured in the attack from a rooftop on a police team after it entered Bikru village to arrest Dubey. The attackers fled, snatching weapons from the dead and the wounded policemen.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had rushed to Kanpur immediately to meet the family members of the slain policemen and announced financial assistance of Rs1 crore each to the bereaved families.

According to reports, Vikas Dubey had told the security personnel of Mahakaleswar temple that he is Vikas Dubey. The way he shouted in front of the cameras and said, “I am Vikas Dubey of Kanpur.” It suggested that this may be a part of the prescripted plan to prove that he was caught alive. Perhaps it was a tactics to rescue the possibility of being killed in a rancorous encounter as police force was hostile after the killings of its officers and colleagues.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra had described it as a great achievement. “It is no issue whether he was nabbed inside or outside of the temple from where Vikas Dubey was arrested. Dubey, who is worth Rs 5 lakh, is in our custody,” Mishra enthusiastically told media.

Ahead of the encounter, the reports were already circulating throughout the day that he would dramatically offer his arrest at the office of a TV channel in Noida but all this was well planned conspiracy to divert the attention of the Uttar Pradesh police. Apparently, the person shown in the Faridabad CCTV was not Vikas Dubey.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had discussed the matter of Vikas Dubey’s arrest with Ujjain administration over the phone and thereafter he had spoken about the matter with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Madhya Pradesh Police was expected to hand over Vikas Dubey to UP Police.

In the shocking incident, in which eight policemen were killed and seven others injured when they had gone to arrest Vikas Dubey, the warrant was based on a complaint of an attempted murder of a man from the nearby village.

“When the police team, consisting of personnel from three police stations of Kanpur, reached Dubey’s house, they found an earth-mover parked outside.The policemen then attempted to remove the earth-mover to make their way to Dubey’s house. As soon as they got down from their vehicles, they were fired at from nearby rooftops, ADG Kanpur Zone Jai Narayan Singh told.

“The moment firing stopped, eight policemen were found dead on the spot,” he said, adding that the incident took place between 12.30 am and 1.30 am on the night of 2/3 July. Dubey and his aides fled after the incident and the assailants also took away two rifles, including AK 47, and three pistols from the possession of dead and injured police men before fleeing. The martyred policemen were CO Devendra Kumar Mishra, SO (Station Officer) Mahesh Yadav, chowki in-charge Anup Kumar, sub-inspector Nebulal, and constables Sultan Singh, Rahul, Jitendra and Bablu were found in a pool of blood.

Earlier, it had come to light during the probe that Tiwari in the past had refused to register complaints against history-sheeter Vikas Dubey. Later, police confirmed that he tipped the gangster about the raid plan that resulted in blood bath of police men. He along with another sub Inspector KK Sharmawas subsequently arrested.

Chaubepur Police Station overhauled

Martyr DSP Devendra Mishra had accused SHO Tiwari that he provides shelter to mafia don Vikas Dubey in his unlawful nefarious activities. The police investigation also revealed that Vikas had threatened KK Sharma before the encounter and asked the police team to stop coming to his village. All 68 employees of the Chaubepur police station were sent to police lines divesting them form police station.

Investigating DIG was also transferred

The recently promoted SSP Anant Dev Tripathi allegedly had close proximity with the don through his money manager Jay Bajpai and Station Officer Chaubepur Vinay Tiwari. Anant Dev, as DIG of STF, was involved in investigating the murder case. As SSP, Anant Dev had allegedly not taken cognizance of the letters repeatedly written about the nexus between SHO Vinay Tiwari and the gangster by the martyred Circle Officer Devendra Mishra and also an audio clip of their conversation went viral showing how despite his knowledge, Tiwari was helping the criminals and diluting offences against them. Seeing the gravity of allegations he was removed from STF and sent to PAC and Laxmi Singh IG STF entrusted further investigation.

Furious over the gory ambush of policemen, the officials on July 4 razed the house of the dreaded criminal. For the demolition drive, the Kanpur district administration used the same earthmover machine that criminals used to block police vehicles from arriving Bikru village, 45km from the district headquarters, on 2/3 July night for the raid against the gangster. Kanpur Inspector General of Police Mohit Agarwal said the fortified one-storey house, built in 2013 over four bighas in the middle of the village, was a “hub of criminals”. The palatial house had a 12-foot boundary wall protected by barbed wire.

Vikas Dubey enjoyed strong political connections with top leaders of successive ruling parties, including BJP, SP and BSP that gave him the leverage to dominate over district superintendents of police of his area, most of whom did not dare to come in his way. His surrender in the Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain and then encounter points to a high-profile nexus resulting from growing menace of criminalisation of politics that gives oxygen to crime and criminals at the cost of public at large.

Opposition seeks probe into politics-crime nexus

Opposition parties have criticised the Uttar Pradesh government over gangster Vikas Dubey’s killing after he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the July 3 killing of eight policemen in Kanpur. Terming it the outcome of “politics-crime nexus”, they have demanded a judicial probe.

Congress general secretary and Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has raised questions about Dubey’s protectors. “Fine, the criminal [Dubey] is dead but what about those who protected him and his crimes?” she tweeted. She hinted at a cover-up while party colleague Jitin Prasada tweeted, “People expect justice and not revenge from the government.”

In Delhi, Congress chief spokes- person Randeep Surjewala also raised questions about the encounter killing. “Who are the people sitting in the echelons of power, who were protecting criminals like Vikas Dubey? What is the connection of Vikas Dubey? What are the secrets or the beans that he was about to spill about those sitting in the echelons of power that an encounter of this nature took place?” he asked.

Former chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati underlined the necessity for a high-level probe for justice in a series of tweets. “A probe under the Supreme Court should be done into the killing of the policemen and then overturning of the car in which the UP [Uttar Pradesh] police were bringing the heinous criminal Vikas Dubey… and Dubey’s killing by the police,” she said.

Mayawati added a high-level probe is necessary for justice to the families of the policemen, and to identify the nexus between “police and criminal politics” and for the strongest of punishment for those involved.

Another former CM and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, tweeted, “It is not the car that overturned, the government saved itself from overturning by preventing the secrets from coming out.” he also accused the government of a cover up.

On the contrary BJP spokesman Harish Chandra Srivastava, hailed the police action, saying, “He was a dreaded criminal.

He had been changing his mind and looks like after the surrender he changed it once again and attempted to escape.

He committed several murders before killing the eight policemen. All those who have been criticising the government and police should take all these things into account and if they have any doubts then when the magisterial probe would happen, they can raise those issues there.”

Praising the UP police for the encounter, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, a media advisor to the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, said, “It was a brave encounter.

Police had been working hard for six days. Vikas Dubey was a heinous and dreaded criminal. Those who are questioning the police action should desist from making such statements that would demoralise police.”