One fallout of gangster Vikas Dubey’s hide and seek with the police and eventual ‘encounter’ killing in Uttar Pradesh has been a resurgence of Brahmin pride and Brahmin victimhood. For many social media users, Vikas Dubey wasn’t just a gangster. He was first and foremost a Brahmin — a ‘tiger’ who commanded love and respect of the community, and should be venerated by the ‘descendants’ of Parshuram, the sixth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu. And so, Dubey’s killing has ignited a turf war led by Brahmins against the Thakur community in Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is a Thakur.
‘You just didn’t kill Vikas Dubey, you actually killed the faith of Brahmins. You killed our Vishwas, not Vikas. All the Mishras, Pandeys, Chaubeys, Tiwaris, Bhumihars! Brahmins should remember who Lord Parshuram fought against,” said a user who goes by the name Shivam Brahmin Dada Bhai in a Facebook live. The user added: “Dare you to make a film on him. We will burn the theatres.”
Be it on Facebook or WhatsApp or Twitter, social media has been littered with such posts and videos since Vikas Dubey’s encounter killing Friday morning. The message by UP’s Brahmins is clear: It’s Thakurs vs Brahmins now.
Many Brahmins are alleging that CM Adityanath has been ignoring the Brahmin community. They are listing out instances where a Brahmin was killed or murdered, and are praising the criminals from the community, calling those like Vikas Dubey as ‘Brahmin Bahubalis’.
The encounter, therefore, also puts an end to any possibility of seeing the undoing of political-criminal nexus that led to the gangster’s rise. People were hoping that Vikas Dubey, who was arrested Thursday from a temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain a week after eight police officers were killed in a shootout in Kanpur, would spill the beans on his connection with top political leaders in Uttar Pradesh, including those from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
‘Memes turned into anger’
Until Thursday, social media was flooded with memes of the Brahmin gangster, lauding how he fooled the media, the police and the Adityanath government. The anger was towards Muslims. People were demanding similar treatment for Maulana Saad Khandalvi, the chief of Tablighi Jamaat. But the sentiments have changed since the encounter Friday.
Many Brahmins are now threatening to topple the government of ‘Thakur’ Adityanath. They are reminding the BJP of the next assembly election in UP, to be held in 2022. They see themselves as the victims of this caste rivalry between Brahmins and Thakurs, which was most visible during the 2018 assembly bypoll in Gorakhpur. This rivalry, which has its genesis in the squabble over dominance of the Gorakhnath math, was strengthened when the BJP picked Adityanath as UP’s CM after the victory in the 2017 assembly election, ignoring Manoj Sinha — a Bhumihar.
The emergence of warrior sage Parshuram
An important aspect of the social media posts ‘celebrating’ Vikas Dubey is the veneration of warrior sage Parshuram. According to folklore, Parshuram had ‘eliminated’ Kshatriyas 21 times from earth. The Thakur-Brahmin rivalry, in a way, goes back to this mythology. Adityanath’s ‘usurping‘ of the bhagwa (saffron) robe and the mathadheesh (the leadership of Gorakhnath math) has only intensified this rivalry.
Moreover, even the Ram temple movement in Ayodhya has been ‘hijacked’ by members of other castes. The traditionally Brahmin-Baniya party BJP is often said to have ‘sidelined’ Brahmins. Now it is a party of powerful angry nationalists who believe in demagoguery. The Brahmin community now sees a question mark over its presence and is unnerved by the shift in power base, at least in Uttar Pradesh.
‘Guns restoring caste pride in UP’
Gun-toting gangsters and politicians in decision-making positions evoke extreme emotions of caste pride. Vikas Dubey killed Brahmin police officers, the officers who tipped him off were also Brahmins and the place where the Kanpur shootout happened is named Chaubeypur — all this signifies Brahmin dominance.
Under Adityanath, the community has seen its traditional role of being an ‘advisor’ to the king waning. UP chief secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi, although a Brahmin, is neither a gangster nor a politician. And the killing of Vikas Dubey, in the eyes of Brahmins, only deepens this sense of losing ‘power’. Perhaps it is such sentiment that translates into the community members invoking what they must do — “All Brahmins must become Vikas Dubey now”. A Brahmin ‘with a gun’ is the only way now to restore the ‘lost’ caste pride it seems.
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