“Will we allow police to kill anyone without a court trial?”
Indian police shot dead one of the country’s most wanted criminals a day after his arrest, leading to accusations of an unofficial killing.
Vikas Dubey was arrested over the killing of eight police officers.
Officials said that he was shot as he tried to escape from a police vehicle while being driven to his home city in Uttar Pradesh.
Shortly after his death, rights lawyers and activists claimed that police had shot Dubey to prevent him from revealing his connections with powerful people.
Supreme court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said:
“This is the most blatant case of extrajudicial killing.
“Dubey was a gangster terrorist who may have deserved to die. But (Uttar Pradesh) police have killed him to shut his mouth.”
Another lawyer named Utsav Bains asked: “Will we allow police to kill anyone without a court trial?”
Senior opposition Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi called for a judicial inquiry, saying that the people “protecting” Dubey were still free.
Dubey was accused of more than 60 murders, attempted murders and other crimes. He allegedly shot dead a Uttar Pradesh state minister inside a police station in 2001.
Despite those cases, Dubey had built numerous local political links over the past two decades.
On July 3, 2020, eight officers were killed when his gang ambushed a police team attempting to arrest him. A nationwide search was launched, during which five of Dubey’s associates were killed.
Police received a tip-off from local officers about a pending raid. Some of the local officers were arrested for leaking information to Dubey.
On July 9, Dubey gave himself up in a Madhya Pradesh temple.
According to Indian police, the vehicle transporting him early on Friday overturned and he tried to escape.
Kanpur police inspector general Mohit Agarwal said:
“Dubey has been killed in an exchange of fire after he snatched the pistol of our men and tried to flee after firing at them.”
“Four of our men are also injured.”
Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath, has publicly endorsed police killings as a “deterrent” to crime.
His government has pledged to root out crime from the state and his tenure has coincided with a rise in the number of criminals dying in police shootouts.
In his first year in power, more than 1,000 encounters were reportedly recorded.
In response to Dubey’s death, Nirjhari Sinha, a civil rights leader from Gujarat said:
“History repeats. Dead gangsters can’t speak about their political patronage.”
More recently, suspects accused of violent crimes have died in custody.