Welcome to the Gang of Chaubeypur. Or, “Khadi, Khaki aur Gangster.” (Aaj Tak)
This is a real life pot-boiler, not a sequel to a Bollywood film, starring Vikas Dubey and his “monster” band of killers (NDTV 24×7) on the run with over 3,000 policemen from five states after him — or as India TV put it, “aage aage Vikas Dubey, peechhe peechhe police”.
The story begins on the evening of 2 July. The telephone rings at 8 pm. The Don takes the call, listens and then hastily leaves the house, for an hour. He returns with 50 men including Shooter Kallu. He lays a trap, positions his men and then waits. When the police arrive, they are ambushed — eight are brutally killed. The Don escapes with his henchmen in three cars (as reconstructed by News 24, Mirror Now, Republic TV).
But someone claimed to see him on bicycle too… (CNN News18).
What happened next is unclear — the Uttar Pradesh Police appeared to have lost the plot — UP’s “most wanted” criminal (Aaj Tak) was sighted near the Madhya Pradesh border, according to Republic TV; other channels had him headed towards Bihar or Rajasthan, while he was apparently in Haryana’s Faridabad eating bhujiya at a shop.
But we are getting ahead of the story.
‘Breaking’ the nexus
Initially, the news channels lost their cool: “108:12:43 hours later and he hasn’t been caught,” said an incensed ABP News anchor on Sunday.
“Where is Vikas Dubey?” asked News 24. “Nobody has a clue,” replied Aaj Tak, including the TV channels.
How could they take the story forward, then? They reeled in the past with relish — CNN News18 was in shock and awe as it blurted out, “Dreaded history of this gangster,” — 60 criminal cases including murder, extortion and kidnapping; a 2001 murder in broad daylight of a BJP MLA, recounted to the sound of gunshots (India Today).
Videos of Vikas Dubey claiming he had protection of politicians surfaced, photographs with politicians followed. Links with the police were flagged in a letter written by one of the officers killed in the shootout, Devendra Mishra.
On Aaj Tak, anchor Anjana Om Kashyap, auditioning as a screenplay/dialogue writer, described it best — “Aaj hum khadi khaki aur gangster ke khooni cocktail ke khilaaf halla bol karenge. (Today, we will run a show against the bloody cocktail of politics, police and gangster)”
News 18 India dug out Vikas Dubey’s family in their village: it found his father lying on a cot in the courtyard, almost comatose; his sister close by declaring that the siblings were estranged over a property dispute; and a teenage niece blithely speaking about her forthcoming exams.
Still, the story wasn’t running entirely true to script – it had the Don, the corrupt police, the political nexus but any good gangster film required one other character. A woman. But there’s no moll in this story so the channels set off in another direction: “Kahan hai biwi (where’s the wife),” several asked, flashing her photograph. Was she with him in the car? On the bicycle? Once again, it was a mystery to everyone.
Oh boy, this was turning out to be a real humdinger.
And then on Wednesday morning, the big breakthrough: “Gangster cornered,” said Republic TV and we all waited for the credits to roll. However, it turned out that one of his closest associates, Amar Dubey, had been “gunned down” in, whaddya know, an encounter, while another, Shyamu Bajpai, had been nabbed.
An injured Bajpai, spread out on a stretcher and displayed to the eager media, claimed, in an injured voice, that he was at home on 2 July and had nothing to do with either Vikas Dubey or the shootout.
As for the “cornered” gangster, he was still at large, though the bounty on his head had now been increased to Rs 5 lakh – seems a paltry amount for a man who killed so many policemen.
‘Sightings’ of the ‘cornered’ Don
However, Vikas Dubey or “someone who looked like him” had tried to book himself into a hotel room in Faridabad (CNN News18) and before he knew it, the hotel manager had a cameo role on all channels — NDTV India, Mirror Now, ABP News, Zee News, and News 18 India, et cetera.
He described the brief encounter over identity cards, the reporters rushed to the hotel rooms – intrepid News 18 India entered one room and gave us a grand tour of the tiny space, including the “attached bathroom”. However, the manager had said ‘Dubey’ was there for only three minutes and left — so how come he was in a hotel room, or indeed, bathroom? Need Perry Mason, currently smoking up Hotstar, to help solve that one.
Next up was CCTV footage of “Don’s hotel” (Aaj Tak) and Dubey right there in dark glasses — apparently just two kilometres away from the local police station. Oooh, it was just too exciting for the India TV anchor, who exclaimed that this was more and more like a film script. ABP News said he was still within a 3-4 km radius of the hotel — and hobbled by a bad leg.
“The day is not far when he will be caught,” said NewsNation as it reported that three more accomplices had been arrested in Faridabad: Ankur, Ankur ke papa and Prabhat. Apparently, they, along with Dubey, had been hiding out in a local colony for the last three days (Mirror Now).
“There’s a strong possibility he will surrender in Delhi otherwise he could die in an encounter,” added CNN News18, smelling blood.
Not so fast
Meanwhile, another twist to the plot: fresh CCTV footage revealed Dubey, or someone like him, climbing into a three-wheeler and whizzing away. “It looks to me like there is someone in a white shirt already seated in the auto — it can’t be because of auto-sharing in these coronavirus times, so it must be a pre-arranged pick-up,’’ deduced the anchor on India TV studio. Maybe the police should employ her?
A nearby shop owner selling savoury snacks, told India TV that the police reached the spot at about 4.30 pm Tuesday — several hours after Dubey had left. Twenty-four hours later, the UP Police had not caught up with him. ABP News assured us he was somewhere in Delhi and would be caught soon.
Well, caught he was, Thursday morning, not in Delhi but in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, where like true-blooded gangsters, he had gone for ‘darshan’ to a temple — “Don Dubey Arrested” announced India Today as each news channel ran the same ‘exclusive’ of his arrest and the moment he shouted out, “Main Vikas Dubey Kanpur wala!”.
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