The rise and fall of notorious gangster Vikas Dubey, killed in a police encounter in Uttar Pradesh, exposes the dangerous nexus between politics and crime and a rotten police system. The journey of Dubey, whose men had massacred eight police personnel when they raided his den, was a depressing tale of the corrosive political culture in Uttar Pradesh, which made a mockery of the rule of law. The encounter killing, seen as instant justice for someone who was involved in several cases of murder, extortion and land grabbing over the last two decades, did not come as a surprise for those familiar with the cycle of violence in India’s hinterland. Dubey clearly had close political links across the parties and provided useful services for politicians which ensured that he was protected. His clout was evident in 2001 when he killed a BJP leader in a police station in full public view. But, the gangster was acquitted when all the witnesses in the police station turned hostile during the trial. The fact that Dubey could get away for so long is a reflection of the manner in which the political and administrative machinery has worked in many parts of India. Ever since the brutal killing of the police team near Kanpur, Dubey was on the run for nearly a week before his arrest near Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The encounter allegedly occurred while he was being taken to Kanpur in a police convoy.
In order to put an end to the criminalisation of politics, there must be a broader investigation into the trend of gang lords thriving with impunity. The criminal justice system must be freed from the shackles of partisan pressures to bring about a qualitative change in the political-security environment in States like UP. Gangsters like Dubey will continue to thrive in a system that promotes a symbiotic relationship between politics and crime. The patronage-based political system will keep rewarding people with criminal antecedents who can arrange finances through dubious routes and deliver services that are outside legal boundaries. This dangerous nexus will continue unless the broken law and order machinery is fixed and police reforms are implemented. The most important component of the reforms process is putting an end to political interference in the police functioning. The police require the confidence, cooperation and support of the community to prevent crime and disorder and check the activities of local warlords. There is also a need to separate investigation and law and order wings to ensure speedier probes, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. If the blood-splattered village road in UP’s Bikru does not teach us any lessons, India’s democratic credentials will be flawed and irreparably scarred.
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