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How Vikas Dubey became the ‘Gabbar’ of Bikru

July 12, 2020 06:10 AM


How Vikas Dubey became the ‘Gabbar’ of Bikru
From a small-time bahubali with a love for movies, Dubey turned into a blood-thirsty gangster who hung people upside down from trees and sent goons after his wife

‘Arjun Pandit’ doesn’t rank high on Sunny Deol’s filmography. A 1999 flick, it is one of those forgettable Bollywood potboilers, in which circumstances turn a reticent wellmeaning professor in smalltown Haridwar into a bloodthirsty warlord. The film, however, found an ardent fan in gangster Vikas Dubey who is rumoured to have watched it over a 100 times. The film ends happily with the hero getting the girl. There was no such happy ending for Dubey who was allegedly shot down by the Uttar Pradesh police while trying to escape custody this week.

In his lifetime, the 55-yearold Dubey earned various monickers — ‘Pandit’ inspired by his love of the film, Don of Shivli and Gabbar of Bikru (the village in Kanpur where he lived). Dubey would often belt out his own version of the famous dialogue from Don: “Pandit ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai.” (It is not just difficult to capture Pandit but impossible.) That boast turned out to be hollow, after Dubey killed eight policemen on July 3, setting off a manhunt in five states that lasted over a week. Oldtimers say that Dubey emerged in the mid-90s as a henchman (bahubali) for politicians, able to swing votes with the power of his gun. He fought and won the nagar panchayat election in 1996, and for the next three decades his sway increased in Kanpur and neighbouring areas.

Police sources say that he had his hands in various pies — extortion, protection, land-grab — but with limited influence. Till October 12, 2001 when Dubey entered the Shivli police station and peppered BJP leader Santosh Shukla with bullets. Shukla was no smalltime politician. He had ministerial rank in the Rajnath Singh government and had been the district BJP president. While their rivalry had been a source of friction for some time, the immediate provocation was Shukla’s attempt to file a complaint against Dubey for attacking Shivli nagar panchayat chairman Lallan Bajpai.

After the killing, he vanished for four months and then surrendered before a local court. It was less a surrender more a show of strength. Dubey was accompanied by a number of ‘mananiyas’ (MLAs in local parlance) to facilitate his surrender, says Manoj Shukla, Santosh’s brother. The case fell flat in four years with all witnesses, including the policemen, turning hostile. That, old-timers say, was a turning point. His reputation as a merciless don solidified and his run continued unbridled for 19 years. Photographs with politicians are a testimony to his clout. While his notoriety expanded in Kanpur and adjoining areas, his monthly cut from the local industrial area was reportedly to the tune of Rs 50 lakh.

Villagers of Bikru and Shivli had first-hand experience of his brutality. His mansion in Bikru — now demolished — was the den of torture. People would be flogged or tied up for as simple an omission as not bowing before him or his men. “Parched villagers would not even dare draw water from the village well without pleading and singing his praises. Even a minor slight would invite brutal retribution. I was only 10 years old when I was tortured and suspended upside down from a tree for being less than respectful. At least four other villagers have met a similar fate,” said a villager.

He was also fond of holding court to deliver instant justice for villagers. “Once while he was holding a panchayat at the sprawling orchard near his home, bird poop fell on his shoulder,” recalls a villager. “The don whipped out his gun and shot every bird atop that banyan tree.”

His lust for power was manifest in personal relationships too. In late 80s, when he came to Kanpur from his village to stay with his uncle for studies, he fell for a girl in the neighbourhood. She was from a lower caste and the family disapproved of the match. Unable to make headway he befriended the girl Richa’s brother. Dubey eventually eloped with Richa and married her.

However, the 2001 killing of Santosh Shukla and unwanted notoriety that brought for him, strained their relationship. Both Richa and her brother severed their ties with him and vanished. When Dubey returned after acquittal in 2005, he unleashed his gang in search of his wife, two sons and inlaws. He got back his wife and kids but his brother-in-law shifted to Shahdol in MP to save himself.

Sources in the Enforcement Directorate, who are probing his assets, say he visited 14 countries in the past three years and had 16 houses in various cities in India and abroad. And police sources say he was preparing to take a leap into politics by contesting 2022 assembly elections from Rania assembly seat.

Why would such a person, sitting pretty on his empire, commit such a brazen act of killing eight cops?

“His basic instinct. It was in his blood,” says a senior police officer. Sources also admit it might have been a reaction to the penchant of UP cops for “encountering” criminals.

A day after his death, a video went viral showing Dubey dancing along with a wedding procession. The song, ironically, is “Apka kya hoga Janab- e-aali”

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