Kanpur: It was August 1, 2021, when Satish Chandra Mishra, general secretary of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), roared in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, that his party would fight the legal battle to get Khusi Dubey out of jail. But, soon the roar died down.
Khusi Dubey, the widow of alleged gangster Amar Dubey, was detained by the Kanpur unit of Uttar Pradesh police on July 4 and officially sent to jail on July 8, 2021, after being slapped with 17 different Sections of the Indian Penal code, which includes Section 302 (the act of committing a murder), Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 394 (attempting a robbery), amongst others. The 18-year-old widow is still lodged in jail, and at the time of her arrest, she was a juvenile, claims her family.
Recently, her family was approached by the Congress local unit in Kanpur, who reportedly offered a ticket to Khusi to contest the Assembly election, only to be refused by Gayatri Devi, Khusi’s mother.
According to Gayatri Devi, Khusi was just 16 years old when she got married on July 31, 2021, and two days later, on August 3, 2021, the Bikru incident happened. Slain gangster Vikas Dubey ambushed eight policemen on the intervening night of August 2 and 3, 2021, when they were on their way to Bikru village in Kanpur district to arrest Vikas Dubey.
Vikas Dubey was killed on August 10, 2021, in a police encounter while allegedly running away from police custody. Since that day, the debate about ‘brahmins being neglected’ by the Uttar Pradesh government started.
ARE BRAHMINS NEGLECTED IN UP?
According to a recent survey by Hindi news outlet Dainik Bhaskar, 26% of the administrative officers sitting on the chair of district magistrate (DM) in the state are thakurs, and 11% are brahmins, while the state has an equal ratio of thakur and brahmin police chiefs posted in the districts. Only four of the 75 districts have got district magistrates belonging to Scheduled Castes, while 14 districts have the district chiefs belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and 12 districts have OBC police chiefs. Yadav (OBCs) officers have managed to get posted only in one district each in the position of Suprintendent of Police and DM. And in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet, there are 27 ministers from the upper caste and 23 are OBCs.
PREVAILING CASTE EQUATIONS
The state's politics took a U-turn from wooing brahmins to wooing the backward castes when former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav started inducting several sitting MLAs and cabinet ministers of the ruling BJP government in the state to his Samajwadi Party (SP). The biggest name that joined the socialist camp was Swami Prasad Maurya, a sitting legislator from Padrauna constituency in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Prior to 2016, Maurya was with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and had joined the saffron ship in 2016, just months before the 2017 Assembly elections. The BJP swept the polls, and BSP was reduced to just 19 seats.
It is to be mentioned that Maurya holds a solid vote base amongst maurya, kushwaha, sakhya and saini sub-castes. In his opening speech after joining the socialist clan, he countered Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's "80 % vs 20 %” narrative with “85% is ours, and in the remaining 15% we do have a share."
The brahmins constitute about 11%, the thakurs about 5% of the state’spopulation, and Maurya's remarks of a division in the 15% were aimed at these upper caste votes.
THE KHUSI DUBEY CASE
Lodged in jail since July 18, 2021, Khusi Dubey has been denied bail more than 18 times at three different justice forums, which includes the Juvenile Justice Board, Sessions Court and the Allahabad High Court, says Shiva Kant Dixit, the advocate representing her in this court. "The case is with the honourable Supreme Court now, and our priority is to get the girl out because she has been denied bail many times. Our only argument is that she is innocent and has spent a lot of time in jail for not committing any crime," he said.
However, Justice JJ Munir of the Allahabad High Court observed: "An overall look on the circumstances of the case brings to mind the fact that the occurrence, in which the revisionist was involved, was not of an ordinary kind. Not only the spontaneous elimination of eight policemen in action and six others left injured is a horrendous crime that shocks the conscience of the society, but also an act that strikes at the roots of the state's authority in its territory."
Advocate Shiva Kant Dixit further said that if the honourable High Court had gone through the case diary, this observation would have never come because the FIR was registered only an hour before the police party went to raid the spot where the policemen were ambushed.
"Khusi Dubey is simply paying the cost of a media trial, and the state government is also trying their best to keep her in jail. COVID is also one of the major reasons that she has been denied bail," the lawyer said, adding the government of Uttar Pradesh has also opposed the bail based on the statements of survivor policemen.
Veteran journalist and author Atul Chandra believes that the shift of focus from brahmins to OBCs by political parties during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election campaign is very natural because OBC voters are more significant chunk. "No party would risk the larger vote back. The ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata party) was able to make inroads in UP politics in 2017 by making Apna Dal, Rajbhar and Nishad an ally through which they were able to get over 60% of (OBC) votes," he said.
Meanwhile, Khusi Dubey's elder brother was ousted from his job soon after the Bikru incident and is now forced to take up daily wage jobs as the family has been somewhat boycotted by the society, according to Khusi’s mother Gayatri Tiwari, who works as a painter along with her husband to run the family. Khusi Dubey's bail hearing is pending in the Supreme Court.