A police station in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is under investigation after a criminal organisation was tipped off before a raid. On Friday July 3, police were sent to a property in the Bikru village near Kanpur city, only to find some 100 armed men ready for them and firing from the roof. A total of eight police personnel were killed in the shootout, while it's believed that only two men from within the building were killed.
The ringleader of one of India's most feared criminal organisations is now on the run. Vikas Dubey, 53, has at least 60 criminal charges against him, and now has some 25 police teams looking for him in more than 100 locations across Uttar Pradesh, the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and the India-Nepal border.
Dubey’s associate, a man named Daya Shankar Agnihotri, was arrested on July 4. During interrogation, he revealed how Dubey was in cahoots with the local police, who almost certainly provided a tip off before the raid.
An employee at the local power station also admitted that they'd cut off the electricity supply during the raid after receiving a call from someone who claimed to be from the Chaubepur police station.
An analysis of the gangster’s call records further confirms that he was in regular contact with some 24 policemen, including at least one officer.
Vinay Tiwari, the officer in charge of the Chaubepur police station has been subsequently suspended from his role. Several reports indicate that he'd actually gone missing from the scene when Dubey’s gang began firing at police officials.
Following the encounter, the police demolished Dubey’s house on July 4 and found a cache of arms and ammunition stashed inside a secret bunker.
The list of suspected criminals did not include Dubey’s name, even though it targeted many lesser-known gangsters.
Among the various political parties Dubey has often been associated with has been the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to which Yogi Adityanath belongs. The BJP is also the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, oddly, Dubey has also been an accused in the murder of a BJP leader: he allegedly killed Santosh Kumar Shukla, along with two cops, in 2001. He was acquitted after policemen who witnesses to the crime refused to support the prosecution's case during trial.
In his three-decade long criminal career, Dubey has been arrested multiple times, but has been released on bail each time. An upper-caste man who found himself caught amidst rising caste-based disputes in 1990s, Dubey’s first visit to the police station was after a scrap with a lower-caste man, who he beat up for allegedly insulting his father.
In 1992, he was arrested for murdering two Dalit men, members of castes that in India were previously considered "untouchables." These incidents projected him as a symbol of upper-caste pride.
Throughout his life, Dubey has often switched loyalties depending on the party in power. Apart from PM Modi’s BJP, he has allegedly been associated with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP). The BSP has often been described as India’s largest party for Dalits, the very group Dubey has often been accused of targeting.
His wife Richa Dubey was even elected as deputy head of the district’s rural local body in 2015.
Uttar Pradesh accounts for 9.5 percent of cognizable crimes in India, according to a 2017 report by the National Bureau of Criminal Records. It also tops the list of crimes against women, with 3,59,849 registered cases of rape and exploitation of women.
Some of the country’s most notorious gangsters have origin stories in Uttar Pradesh. This includes Munna Bajrangi, a contract killer and politician responsible for murdering more than 40 people, Mukhtar Ansari, a gang leader who established himself as a politician and Man Singh, one of India’s most notorious dacoits.
Recently popular Indian true crime shows like Mirzapur and Paatal Lok, have drawn inspiration from the gritty real-life incidents that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh.
Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on VICE IN.