Gangster Vikas Dubey’s ‘encounter’ reopens debate on extrajudicial killings

He was shot dead enroute to Kanpur a day after he ‘surrendered’ in Madhya Pradesh, and was being brought to Uttar Pradesh 

vikas dubey

In another hour Vikas Dubey, Uttar Pradesh’s most notorious gangster accused of ambushing and killing eight Uttar Pradesh Policemen, would have reached Kanpur with the posse of policemen who had arrested him after his dramatic appearance at the Mahakal temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. He was shot dead en route. According to the police version, Dubey had attempted to flee after the car they were in, had slipped and fallen into a roadside pot hole. The encounter sight soon became a hot spot and the rush of locals even caused a traffic jam.

The police encounter on Friday July 10, of the gangster who had ‘surrendered’ peacefully on Thursday July 9, and was being brought to UP for further investigations, has reopened the debate on such killings. There is a sharp divide between those who are hailing this killing as a positive impact on criminals, or even justice for the policemen killed in an ambush allegedly by Dubey and his gang, and those who say the rule of law should have been followed and Dubey should have been tried and punished by the courts.

The UP police have told the media that after their vehicle met with an accident on the rain slicked road, Dubey tried to flee, apparently after snatching a pistol from a cop, and was subsequently shot dead in a field near the road. After days of being chased by UP police in connection with the killing of eight policemen in an ambush at village Bikru, near Kanpur, Dubey had surrendered to the police just a day before his ‘encounter’.

Dubey’s killing comes close on the heels of the ‘encounters’ where most of his gang members were killed over the last few days in separate incidents across Uttar Pradesh. According to news reports even on July 3, the day the policemen were killed in the ambush, Dubey’s aides identified as Prem Prakash Pandey and Atul Dubey, were killed in an encounter in Kanpur. Multiple news reports detailed how another Dubey aide, Amar Dubey, was killed on July 8 at Maudaha village in Hamirpur district. The next day, July 9, two more men associated with Dubey, and wanted in connection with the Kanpur ambush, Praveen alias Bauwa Dubey and Prabhat Mishra were killed in two separate encounters in Etawah and Kanpur respectively. Mishra had been arrested from Faridabad a day before he was killed.

Prashant Kumar, UP ADG-Law & Order told mediapersons that three sub-inspectors, one constable and two STF commandos were injured during the incident. So far, three people have been arrested, six accused killed and seven people have been sent to jail (under section 120B IPC). 12 wanted criminals still absconding.

The sense of a repeating sequence of events has been noted by most people following the Vikar Dubey case and subsequent encounters of him and his gang by Uttar Pradesh Police. In fact a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) into the killings of Vikas Dubey’s aides by the Uttar Pradesh Police. According to a report in the Hindustan Times the plea, which was filed before Dubey himself was killed, had raised concerns that the gangster from Uttar Pradesh too might suffer the same fate. The petitioner Ghaynshyam Upadhyay, therefore, prayed that Dubey should be given adequate security so that he is dealt with as per the law, stated the HT report. “Killing of accused by police in the name of encounter is against the rule of law and serious violation of human right and this is nothing short of Talibanisation of the country,” stated the petition.

It is a matter of public record that the (then) Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) Justice (retired) M.N. Venkatachaliah had once made crucial observations on such encounters. He had stated that, “Under our laws the police have not been conferred any right to take away the life of another person. If, by his act, the policeman kills a person, he commits the offence of culpable homicide whether amounting to the offence of murder or not unless it is proved that such killing was not an offence under the law.” 

However, he had added that “it would not be an offence if death is caused in the exercise of the right of private defence.” And that there was another provision “under which the police officer can justify the causing of death of another person, is Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This provision authorises the police to use force, extending upto the causing of death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life. It is, therefore, clear that when death is caused in an encounter, and if it is not justified as having been caused in exercise of the legitimate right of private defence, or in proper exercise of the power of arrest under Section 46 of the Cr.P.C., the police officer causing the death, would be guilty of the offence of culpable homicide. Whether the causing of death in the encounter in a particular case was justified as falling under any one of the two conditions, can only be ascertained by proper investigation and not otherwise.”

The NHRC had also recommend the following as correct procedure for investigations into police encounters:

  • When the police officer in charge of a Police Station receives information about the deaths in an encounter between the Police party and others, he shall enter that information in the appropriate register.

  • The information as received shall be regarded as sufficient to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence and immediate steps should be taken to investigate the facts and circumstances leading to the death to ascertain what, if any, offence was committed and by whom.

  • As the police officers belonging to the same Police Station are the members of the encounter party, it is appropriate that the cases are made over for investigation to some other independent investigation agency, such as State CID.

  • Question of granting of compensation to the dependents of the deceased may be considered in cases ending in conviction, if police officers are prosecuted on the basis of the results of the investigation.

According to advocate Abdul Quadir Abbasi, an Advocate on Record, Supreme Court, even if the courts take time to impart justice, the state shouldn’t take the law in their hands. “Court should take suo motu cognisance of such incidents,” he said. The last such encounter which sparked a national debate was the killing of a group of men accuseud of rape and murder, in Telangana in 2019. The four accused had ‘confessed’ to the gruesome gang rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinary doctor in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad in Novermner 2019. The accused were killed in a police encounter on the Bangalore Hyderabad highway, while they were being taken in police custody for a reconstruction of the crime scene. Many had hailed this encounter as an anti crime move then too.

However, according to advocate Quadri, “State surrender before majoritarianism will lead to nowhere. Those people (lawyers in particular) who are supporting the fake encounters are invariably encouraging the concept of a Police state. Authoritarian rule will be established and no independent judiciary will be anymore. This is horrific in a democratic state. Fairness in action is the hallmark of  every democratic set up.”

As activist and Politician Subhashini Ali writes in The Wire, “On assuming the post of chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath declared his intention of making the state crime-free. He said that anyone committing a crime would be hammered (‘thoke jayenge’). There’s a double entendre here: Thoke jayenge is also colloquial for bumping off and, taking their cue from the chief minister, the police adopted ‘encounter’ as their modus operandi against crime, completely ignoring the advice of former DGP Prakash Singh, a tough cop and inveterate champion of police reform, who had warned against making an encounter an expression of public policy.”

Interestingly the UP government had also announced a three-day lockdown yesterday evening. Media vehicles that were following the police convoy transporting Dubey were allegedly stopped from proceeding further at around 6:30 A.M by policemen at a checkpoint. This was just 30 minutes before the alleged encounter. Angry media persons then confronted the police officer on duty only to be told that there was no special reason to stop the media. It was just “general checking” as this was a check-point. Twitter user Amit Kabi tweeted a video of the confrontation.



While the the ‘celebrations,’ have begun in all earnest amongst some, politician Omar Abdullah has said it best: “Dead men tell no tales”




UP gangster Vikas Dubey surrenders, arrested at Mahakal Temple in MP

Social media hails gangster Vikas Dubey as ‘lion’, ‘Brahmin Shiromani’





Related Articles