“Truth More Dramatic than Fiction”: The Life & Controversial Death of UP’s Most-Wanted Criminal Vikas Dubey


“Truth More Dramatic than Fiction”: The Life & Controversial Death of UP’s Most-Wanted Criminal Vikas Dubey

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Vikas Dubey was easily India’s most-wanted criminal for the past week. The gangster Dubey had been on the run since July 3, after an encounter between a police team and his own men led to eight cops dying in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. After a five-day run, Dubey reportedly surrendered to police at a temple in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh. MP Police handed Dubey over to UP Police, who were transporting him back to Kanpur. But police claim Dubey attempted to escape when a vehicle in the convoy overturned en route, and he was killed in an encounter.

Dubey’s killing has triggered a conversation about the prevalence of such encounters in India. Too often, an encounter killing is a thwarting of justice. Dubey will no longer stand to face judgement for his crimes, instead having met a quick demise on a road between Jhansi and Kanpur. It’s a shame, as his record is long and littered with grievous transgressions. Making him answer for them in a court of law would have been a more fitting end to the story than a dubious encounter.

Vikas Dubey was not a small-time criminal. For nearly three decades, he oversaw an empire based in intimidation and violence, centred around Kanpur. The Indian Express reported that the UP Police have registered 62 cases against Dubey, with most being lodged in Kanpur and Kanpur Dehat districts. Out of these, eight of these are for attempted murder, and five are for murder. The list of murder cases in which Dubey is involved include the murder of a BJP leader who then had minister of state rank in UP, Santosh Shukla, inside a police station in 2001. The witnesses in the Shukla murder case turned hostile, leading to Dubey being acquitted.

While avoiding justice, Dubey also nurtured political ambitions. He joined the Bahujan Samaj Party in the ’90s, facing accusations of rigging elections through intimidation. A report in India Today stated that Dubey’s village, Bikru, near Kanpur, “has not seen a panchayat election in the last 15 years.” He was reported to have deep connections with local politicians and police officials, nurtured over his decades of criminal activity.

The encounter killings of Dubey and all his close aides over the past week means while he won’t harm any more people, he will also take all his dark secrets with him to the grave.