Gangster Vikas Dubey is dead, shot by police. Whether it was an encounter as police have said or a targeted killing in the view of anticipated long wait of judicial process, is now a matter of speculation. A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court over staged encounters. The popular sentiment, however, is of relief with many suggesting on social media that Vikas Dubey got the “justice” he deserved.

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As has happened with many criminal-turned-politicians, Vikas Dubey’s journey was also reaching the safe-haven destination. He was preparing for contesting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2022, possibly on a BSP ticket.

His gangmen were preparing the ground in Raniya assembly constituency in Kanpur Dehat district, part of Akbarpur Lok Sabha constituency. The seat is currently held by Pratibha Shukla of the BJP.

Given the current political flavour of Uttar Pradesh, Vikas Dubey had simultaneously been trying to get into the BJP. Some local reports suggest his entry into the BJP was being “blocked” by a national-level party leader.

Becoming an MLA was his “immediate and much-needed” goal. Vikas Dubey was, however, not a green horn in politics. His rise in the crime world happened through political backing.

Vikas Dubey was first arrested as a teenager around 1990, when he attacked somebody over an altercation with his father. Some local politicians got him released — not on bail but without an FIR being registered.

Hari Kishan Srivastava was the Janata Dal MLA of Chaubeypur — the constituency ceased in 2012. Vikas Dubey would later declare Hari Kishan Srivastava his political guru. Hari Kishan Srivastava would later become an MLA on BJP ticket (1993), and Bahujan Samaj Party (1996).

This incident made him the “dabangg” (muscleman) of Bikru, his village. Over the years, he lorded over dozens of villages over an area with around 1 lakh voters.

This made him a powerful connection for politicians, who approached him during every election seeking votes in return for protection from law. This is why he kept getting released on bail despite the number of cases involving serious offences increasing against him. His last bail was secured in 2018 by when he had over 150 criminal cases slapped on him.

By mid-1990s, Vikas Dubey was a BSP member, and party chief Mayawati was the UP chief minister. Later, he was reportedly cajoled by the Samajwadi Party before 2012 polls. The party won the Raniya assembly seat. He was in recent years developing closer contacts with the BJP, which won the seat in 2017.

Following the murder of Santosh Shukla – the then BJP minister in the Rajanath Singh government of Uttar Pradesh – in 2001 inside a police station in Kanpur, Vikas Dubey became a big-ticket political master in the area. Shukla had been shot multiple times in presence of police personnel. Four years later, Dubey was acquitted for lack of evidence and absence of witnesses.

For 20 years, he was the real elector in the panchayat. Locals have been quoted in various news reports as saying that Vikas Dubey would decide who would contest the panchayat election in his Bikru village, and the candidates would win unopposed.

But whosoever won the panchayat election, it would be Vikas Dubey who would hold his own “panchayat” at some cold storage or brick kiln in Bikru or neighbouring villages to decide any matter.

At the time of the murder of Santosh Shukla, Vikas Dubey was a zilla panchayat member – from Ghimau, 2000-05. It became a reserved seat in 2005, after which Vikas Dubey got his “men” elected to the zilla panchayat till 2015. In 2015, this seat was reserved for women.

Vikas Dubey’s wife, Richa – now in police custody – won the seat “as the day before polling Vikas Dubey and his gangmen toured constituency telling people to vote for her”. Richa needed no campaigning.

Now, Vikas Dubey was in the last lap of transition from the world of crime to politics. He was gunning for next assembly election due in less than two years in Uttar Pradesh. He already had, by his own admission, the police administration under his control. On the night of the ambush on police party, he had got the key inputs and arranged a power blackout, killing the cops on their way to arrest him in a criminal case.

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