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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Vikas Dubey encounter reignites extra-judicial killings debate

The Vikas Dubey encounter has reignited the extra-judicial killings debate. Opinions are flying thick and fast both in favour of and against such killings with fear being expressed that these may become the norm rather than the exception.

As per available information, Vikas Dubey who was arrested by the UP Police in Ujjain was killed in an encounter in Kanpur when he tried to flee after snatching the STF personnel’s pistol. This reminds us of another encounter that took place not so long ago in the state of Telangana.

We may recall that in December last year, four men accused of gang rape had been shot dead by the Telangana police in the wee hours of the morning where it was said that the accused were attempting to escape and had to be gunned down.

In both cases, it was said that the police had to resort to the extreme step as the criminals were making an attempt to escape. A similar debate had erupted back then as well.

Those arguing in favour of encounters opine that such extra-judicial killings help in speedy delivery of justice as well as saving taxpayers’ money while those against it argue that they would only normalize extra-judicial killings. Many have expressed fear that gunning down Dubey may save those politicians whose “secrets he knew” and in a way this amounts to protecting the powerful.

Even though on the face of it, this seems like a simple for and against extra-judicial killings debate, the fact of the matter is this isn’t a simple black and white picture but one that has several shades of grey.

We are conditioned by movies to hero-worship either the cop or the don who runs a parallel government. In both cases, more often than not we find that there is a justification for side-stepping the law. As a result of which we are used to seeing things as either right or wrong and in doing so we forget that unlike the reel life, in real life several factors come into play.

There is absolutely no doubt that Dubey had powerful political connections which helped him exploit the system and manipulate it for his personal benefit. After all, you do not kill a minister of state rank (BJP’s Santosh Shukla) inside a police station in broad daylight in 2001 and still get away with it. It is not for nothing that people of UP still remember the period from 2002-17, especially the ‘Samajwadi’ years as ‘goonda raj’.

Whether or not he would have spilled the beans on the powerful people backing him is anyone’s guess. Given the very real criminalization of politics, especially among ‘secular’ parties, the possibility of Dubey being silenced by those whose dark secrets he held cannot be denied. Besides, he could very well have exploited the loopholes in the legal setup and escaped punishment.

Therein lies the answer to the crucial question that why do people celebrate extra-judicial killings in a democracy like Bharat. The failure of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to punish criminals has led people to believe that it is easier to get justice outside the legal system than within it where cases often drag for years like in the Delhi rape case or criminals escape using the loopholes in the legal system despite the fact that there are eyewitnesses to the case.

When such criminals walk free there is always the danger of them becoming idols and being hero-worshipped by the youth as was the case with the dreaded Gorakhpur don Shriprakash Shukla in the 90s, or with gangsters-turned-terrorists like Abdul Latif who was glamorized in the Shah Rukh Khan starter Raees.

Besides, there is the very real danger of such criminals becoming elected representatives which gives them further immunity and leads the future generations to think that ‘crime pays’.

We are well aware that cases in Bharat drag on for years and many times those waiting for justice end up waiting for a lifetime. In addition, there is the added risk of criminals escaping using the many loopholes that plague our laws. There is, therefore, an urgent need for judicial and police reforms.

We must remember that a state like UP needs a tough taskmaster like CM Yogi Adityanath whose efforts have brought down the crime rate in the state.

While we can debate whether this encounter was good, bad, right, wrong, politicians protected or not, what we can’t deny is that criminals can’t be given the long rope & if the law fails, extra-judicial methods fill the gap and people would cheer as long as they see justice being served.

(Featured Image Source: India Today)

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