Vikas Dubey chapter re-opens the debate on the cop-don nexus

    11-Jul-2020   
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Most of this nexus between cops and dons is not the making of cops in middle ranks. It has been rather the complicity of cops' leadership - the elite IPS cadres - and political influences that has ultimately brought their image to such a receiving end.
  
Vikas Dubey Arrest_1 
Dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey was first arrested in Madhya Pradesh but was later killed in an encounter while being taken to Kanpur. Police say he tried to escape (PTI Photo)
 
History-sheeter Vikas Dubey of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has been finally held in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and killed near Kanpur in one of the most controversial police encounters. But the entire saga on him and his gang, at least in the last fortnight, suggests there was possible police-don nexus though it could not save him in the ultimate.
 
One SHO in Kanpur region in Uttar Pradesh is already being suspected for being hand-in-glove with Dubey. There were as many as 62 criminal cases against Vikas Dubey in Uttar Pradesh, including five cases of murder and eight cases of attempt to murder. But the neta-criminals' nexus is nothing new in Indian socio-political canvas.
 
Some years back in Mumbai, encounter specialist Daya Nayak case throwing lights on the cops-don nexus only put the Mumbai's elite crime branch in poor light. Together with Telgi scam which also threw shady lights on police role in Maharashtra, there came in serious allegation that an 'encounter specialist' was minting money for taking instructions from gangster Chhota Shakeel. The metropolitan cops had to look for cover!
 
The date December 1, 2003 had turned an important day for Mumbai police. The then city commissioner of police R S Sharma - a day after his retirement - otherwise would have been relaxing with family members and friends. But that was not the fate stored for him. On the first day after he took out his police boots, he was taken into custody.
 
Not many police heads in the history of policing must have faced this kind of indignity – to be arrested a day after his retirement. Sharma's arrest was in connection with the Telgi stamp paper scam and prior to him Joint Commissioner of Police Shridhar Wagal was also held under MCOCA for aiding and abetting Abdul Karim Telgi in the running of his infamous syndicate.
 
There were other instances in Mumbai. There was a fiasco with regard to the Mohd Afroz case when police applied POTA – apparently in haste and later withdrew the day the Vajpayee government debated the new anti-terrorism law in a joint sitting of Parliament. Political influence had bothered professionals in the police force. At one point, a former Mumbai police commissioner Rony Mendonca wrote a lengthy letter after his retirement to the Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal.
 
"...when you found I was not willing to comply with your (Bhujbal's) wishes you resorted to posting officers directly. I was left with no choice but to voluntarily seek a shift from the post of commissioner of police," Mendonca had written. Of course there were scores of such cases in Gujarat specially during 2002 anti-Muslim mayhem when the cops in general sense was allegedly standing in solidarity with the 'majority community'.
 
In 1998-99, National Commission for Minorities made news to embarrass the BJP-led NDA, particularly in the context of attacks on Christians and the panel had said that in many cases police seemed to look the other way.
 
In the Gujarat context, a serving senior police official in Uttar Pradesh in May 2002 (during the peak of mayhem) - Vibhuti Narayan Rai - had written a letter to several police officials lamenting point blank: "not only was the police unsuccessful in containing the violence ….. but it seemed that in many places policemen were actively encouraging the rioters". In general sense, experts say Indian policing system needs reforms - something which has been pending for the last many decades. 
 
In fact, it goes without saying that the police always appear to be in an adversarial relationship with the common citizens. This was a true pan-India scenario cutting across all regions and state boundaries. The public perception of a policeman or even a policewoman is that of an intimidating, highhanded personality who puts people in illegal custody and resorts to third-degree methods.
 
Vibhuti Narayan Rai had written that the police failure and inaction (including in Gujarat) ought to be seen primarily "as a failure of the (police) leadership" itself. "The failure of the police should not be attributed to lower ranks but must be seen as a failure of the leadership, that is the failure of the IPS (cadres)," Rai had said in his missive. With regard to policing history in India, in most cases, it has been found that either the state DGP would be a dedicated 'Man Friday' to the state Chief Minister(s) or they would have had 'regular' running feuds.
 
In the words of Mumbai-based crime lawyer and NCP leader, Majeed Memon, constitutionally a state DGP is accountable to "law and law only" and not to any Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister. But this has seldom made a difference in independent India and wherever and whenever a few individuals were at loggerheads with political bosses and civil bureaucracy, he has been unceremoniously replaced.
 
Several committees and experts have recommended a fixed tenure for state DGPs so that they need not fear 'transfer' at the whims and fancies of the political masters.
 
Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission on the Mumbai riots of 1992-1993 had spoken rather explicitly about strong communal feelings of the men in khaki. "The working of the Special Investigation Squad is a study in communal discrimination. The officers of the squad systematically set about implicating as many Muslims and exculpating as many Hindus as possible irrespective of whether they were innocent or guilty. Cases of many Hindus belonging to the Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Utsav Mandal (a local branch of Hindutva outfit) were wrongly classified as 'A' category and investigations closed," said the report.
 
No wonder, various police services in the country are generally viewed as far more amenable to political control and manipulation. It is worth mentioning here that M.N. Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, had in one of his reports pointed out that nearly 60 percent of all arrests in India made by police were unnecessary and unjustifiable. However, it may not be fair to say that the police force or the entire system has failed.
 
Former Mumbai police commissioner Mendonca had summed it up well in an interview with this scribe in 2004 that : ".....the irony remains that police also do good work. But despite having done a good job and often bringing crime rate down like in Mumbai, fighting underworld dons and averting threat perceptions for film stars, the Mumbai cops have only earned flak". This is precisely the story in most states if not all!
 
Well, most of it is though not the making of cops in middle ranks. It has been rather the complicity of cops' leadership - the elite IPS cadres - and political influences that has ultimately brought their image to such a receiving end.