Gangster of Kanpur: on history-sheeter Vikas Dubey

The killing of policemen by a gangster points to a collapse of the rule of law

July 07, 2020 12:02 am | Updated 03:05 pm IST

The killing of eight policemen by a criminal gang in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Friday bears the violent signature of a dysfunctional society and an alarming emaciation of governance in India’s most populous State. A history-sheeter who has at least five dozen cases of murder, extortion, kidnapping and other violent crimes against him, waited in ambush at his own home for the arrival of the police party that was seeking to arrest him. One of the dead was in his early 20s and had just started his career; another one was nearing retirement. These were needless and avoidable deaths: reports suggest that the gangster had received information about the impending raid from his sources within the police. The administration responded to the tragic setback by bulldozing the gang leader’s house and vehicles parked in the premises. Straddling the worlds of government contracts, politics and crime, the gangster Vikas Dubey is emblematic of the nexus between politics, crime and policing in many parts of the country. The circumstances that went into the making of this incident and the response of the administration all point to the same morbid affliction that can be fatal to any democratic society — the collapse of the rule of law. Criminal gangs shielded by politics and police forces that bend to caste, communal and political vested interests form a malevolent circuit that perpetuates itself and rewards its patrons. These individuals in uniform ended up paying with their lives for this.

The police force is the coercive arm of the state often in direct contact with ordinary citizens. The quality of policing therefore has an outsized impact on the overall quality of governance. Poor training, an alienating and dehumanising work environment, corruption and a lack of resources add to the crisis in policing. Politicians in power often use the police the same way politicians out of power use gangsters. Not surprisingly, there are times when the police mirror in character the criminal gangs they chase down. U.P. is not unique, but these maladies reveal themselves on a petrifying scale in the State. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has a declared ‘tough on crime’ policy but this has sometimes meant that the police resort to shortcuts that subvert the legal course. The State has had 5,178 encounters in which 103 suspects were killed and 17,745 surrendered in a little over the last two years. Questionable coercive measures such as collective punishment and criminalisation of political protest and suppression of freedom of expression have also been mainstreamed as regular policing tools. This tragic loss of their own personnel in what should have been a routine law enforcement operation must fire up the U.P. police to uphold professionalism, cleanse its ranks of the corrupt and the inefficient, and liberate the State from the fear of gangsters.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.