Vikas Dubey, dead or alive, is a symptom of malignancy in the polity – of criminalization of politics and democracy being subjugated to the power of money and muscle. The killing of a father-son duo in Tamil Nadu in police custody might seem far removed from then death in police custody of a notorious criminal whose men had gunned down eight policemen. But they are interlinked by a common failure of politics and of the police system.
Dubey, the symptom, has died, but the disease thrives. Santosh Shukla was a minister in the BJP- led government headed by Rajnath Singh when, in 2001, Shukla was shot dead, allegedly by Vikas Dubey, inside a police station at the shield. No policemen came forward to testify, Dubey was eventually discharged. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have a history of Bahubali – musclemen who become local extortionists, criminals, and champions of their caste’s social power – turning into political leaders and using the levers of state power to further their criminal enterprise and suppress rivals. Bahubalis continue to be fielded as candidates by all parties, some win. When the police are expected to function according to the whims of political leaders, rather than the law, they lose accountability and again arbitrary power over the citizenry. deaths in police custody are a corollary.