Vikas Dubey’s encounter didn’t create much of a hand wringing in the minds of people. But instead, it was viewed as a reason to celebrate another extrajudicial killing, just like the last one a year ago in Hyderabad. The custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu a couple of weeks ago were undoubtedly villainous. Similarly, Vikas Dubey’s killing wouldn’t have been much different if he wasn’t an accused murderer of eight policemen. Many people who were criticising the extrajudicial custody deaths, surprisingly, supported Dubey’s encounter.
In India, where everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, only the courts have the power to decide if an individual deserves the death sentence. The killing of Dubey should also be questioned because of his connections with many people of influence. If they don’t get exposed and punished, wouldn’t it be unfair to the family members of the eight policemen who died in Kanpur?
Of course, what Vikas did was undoubtedly wrong, but India has a judicial system which provides for trials with various safeguards to determine guilt. Our anger needs to be corrugated into holding our leaders accountable for failing a justice system rather than resorting to mob justice. Such knee jerk reactions will do little to solve the problem, but in the long run, these will have very vicious consequences.
The fresh rise in celebrations of extrajudicial killings does indicate a collapse of the criminal justice system. It’s now leading to a belief amongst people that they can take over, mete out mob justice themselves like in the Middle Ages or allow cops to bypass the system.