Vikas Dubey ‘encounter’: What it means for BJP govt in UP

It remains to be seen what shape state’s caste-driven political cauldron takes in run-up to Assembly polls

Vikas Dubey ‘encounter’: What it means for BJP govt in UP

Police inspect the encounter site where gangster Vikas Dubey was killed when he allegedly tried to escape from the spot following an accident, near Kanpur, on Friday morning, July 10, 2020. PTI

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10

Key state Uttar Pradesh will vote for a new Assembly in about a year and a half from now. The term of the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath government is expiring in March 2022.   

It is in such a dynamic situation that dreaded criminal Vikas Dubey was today killed by the police in an “encounter”, a week after the horrific Bikru incident where he and his men killed several policemen. 

It also coincides with the ‘Brahmin Chetna Samvad’ initiated by Congress leader Jitin Prasada to regain support of “upper caste Hindus” feeling “neglected and sidelined” by ‘thakur’ CM Adityanath. 

Regional players SP and BSP have also pulled out all stops, raising questions about the “encounter” that ended the free run the hardcore criminal in the state under various regimes, including theirs.

Also read: In 2017-18, NHRC sent multiple notices to UP govt on ‘encounters’ by police

Political observers are sensing interesting dimensions to the multi-layered situation unfolding in UP, a state driven by caste and community equations, in the run-up to the polls. 

Asserting that criminals need to be given exemplary punishment in a proper way, they say the current situation may be used to “widen the existing gap” between castes while Dubey’s protectors, in police and political parties, go scot-free. 

UP-based political observer Sudheer Panwar explains: “Because of media and public attention the killing of Dubey assumes political implications. Congress’ ‘brahmin’ face, Prasada, has started movement to wean off the caste from the BJP on the pretext of ‘thakur’ dominance. 

“He has criticised encounter of Dubey’s relatives, alleging misbehaviour of the police with his mother, father, wife and son, which may find resonance with members of the caste. The killing of Dubey may deepen further the gulf between ‘thakurs’ and ‘brahmins’. However, the CM will get support from those who appreciate his ‘thok do’/ tit for tat policy,” says Panwar. 

After the killing/encounters of criminals belonging to so-called upper caste Hindu community, the Opposition may also find it hard to question ‘dharmnirpekshata’ (secularism) of Adityanath government. While Dubey’s end may boost the image of the CM is it the answer to the real problem, the politician-police system that provides patronage to criminals, they question.

"SP, BSP and Congress may blame Aditynath but the state is in current pitiful situation because of all political parties, including the BJP. In the hinterlands of UP and Bihar, criminals have a tremendous hold on people," they say.

BJP sources say Adityanath wants to end the nexus and is prepared for the criticism because he is aware that is what a large majority of people want. “Dons like Dubey have been encouraged, patronised by all parties, most by SP and BSP. In the past 15 years law and order became a major issue with politicisation of police force. Yadavs were hired during the SP regime, resulting in a corrupt, inefficient and politicised police force and deteriorating law and order,” they say. 

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