Lucknow: Gangster Vikas Dubey’s death in an ‘encounter’ Friday has not just raised questions over the Uttar Pradesh Police’s modus operandi against crime, but also brought back the focus once again on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s controversial ‘thok do’ (shoot them) policy.
Adityanath, after taking over as the chief minister in 2017, had said in an interview: “Agar aparadh karenge, toh thok diye jayenge (If anyone commits a crime, he will be shot dead).”
His ‘thok do’ policy has led to a number of ‘encounters’ of alleged criminals in the state in the last three years.
In December 2019, the UP Police had tweeted that 5,178 encounters happened in the last two years in which 103 criminals were killed and 1,859 got injured.
“17,745 criminals surrendered or cancelled their own bails to go to jail,” the tweet added.
The figures speak for themselves. Jungle Raj is a thing of the past. No longer now.
103 criminals killed and 1859 injured in 5178 police engagements in the last more than 2 years.
17745 criminals surrendered or cancelled their own bails to go to jail.
Hardly state guests. https://t.co/3Tk8qFLtK3
— UP POLICE (@Uppolice) December 6, 2019
However, according to government data from last year, the state police engaged in “3,896 encounters and arrested 8,904 accused in the process” under the current dispensation. While 76 criminals were killed in these shootouts, 1,154 others were injured.
Opposition wants probe into ‘encounter’
Questioning Dubey’s ‘encounter’, former chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said the killing was an attempt to save the government from toppling by secrets that would have been revealed.
दरअसल ये कार नहीं पलटी है, राज़ खुलने से सरकार पलटने से बचाई गयी है.
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) July 10, 2020
In a conversation with a TV channel, Yadav termed the murder as an example of Yogi government’s ‘thok do’ policy.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Congress general secretary (East UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, meanwhile, demanded a free and fair investigation under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
Human rights activist and former Kanpur MP Subhashini Ali has said all suspicious encounters in the state should be probed.
“Until now, only the poor were the targets of such encounters. Most of them were Dalits and Muslims. Not much attention was paid to dreaded criminals like Vikas Dubey,” she told ThePrint.
“The role played by Kanpur’s former SSP Anant Dev (in giving protection to Dubey) is also quite doubtful. This looks like a well-thought out policy. Only some specific people were targeted. The police came to their senses only when such a big incident (the killing of 8 policemen) took place.”
She even claimed BJP leaders from Madhya Pradesh could also be a part of the whole conspiracy. “A petition has already been filed in the Supreme Court against this encounter,” she added.
Speaking to ThePrint, former Director General of Police, UP, Anand Lal Banerjee said encounters are not the permanent solution.
“In certain cases, if any gangster is trying to flee then it is different, otherwise taking them to jail is the better solution. Courts are made for justice. So police should use that medium.”
He further said: “It was more important to expose the nexus between criminals, police and politicians.”
Media vehicles blocked just before the encounter
According to police, the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force was bringing Dubey back to Kanpur from Ujjain, where he had surrendered, when he allegedly attempted to flee after the “car overturned”.
Police said they tried to make him surrender but he fired at the policemen. Dubey was injured in retaliatory firing by police. He was later admitted to a hospital where he died.
However, just before the ‘encounter’, media vehicles, which were following the UP Police convoy that was taking Dubey to Kanpur, were stopped at a spot, which is one km away from where the ‘encounter’ took place.
News agency ANI has tweeted a video in this regard.
#WATCH Media persons, who were following the convoy bringing back gangster Vikas Dubey, were stopped by police in Sachendi area of Kanpur before the encounter around 6.30 am in which the criminal was killed. (Earlier visuals) pic.twitter.com/K1B56NGV5p
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 10, 2020
When the media vehicles were blocked, it led to a traffic jam of 15 minutes and within this time, the ‘encounter’ happened.
Similar ‘encounters’ in the past
On 8 October 2019, an ‘encounter’ involving a 28-year-old man, named Pushpendra Yadav, in Jhansi had raised suspicion.
The government had named Yadav as part of mining mafia and said he was killed after he fired at a police team. Police said Yadav was involved in illegal sand mining and was annoyed with local police as they had seized some of his sand-laden trucks.
Former CM Akhilesh Yadav had called the incident a “police lynching” and demanded a judicial probe.
On 27 November 2018, a 20-year-old youth, Irshad Ahmed, of Muzaffarnagar district was killed in an alleged encounter.
His family had said Ahmed had no criminal antecedents. Police, however, said Ahmed was transporting bulls in a vehicle and fired at the police when asked to stop.
Following the incident, the NHRC had issued a notice to the Yogi government.
In a bizarre case that happened during another alleged encounter on 13 October 2018 in Sambhal district, a policeman had mimicked the sound of gunshots to scare away criminals after his pistol got jammed.
In the ‘encounter’, three policeman sustained injuries, while two criminals were shot.