Bikru revisited: A year after the carnage

Bikru (Uttar Pradesh), July 4 (IANS) In the sweltering heat, a sense of unease prevails in the air. There is no bonhomie and chatter that is so typical of villages in the Hindi heartland.
People move with caution, women peep suspiciously from behind half-open doors and strangers are certainly not welcomed with open arms.
It was exactly a year ago that the Bikru village near Kanpur reverberated with the sound of gunshots that left eight police personnel dead in the wee hours of July 3.
The sun that rose in the village that fateful Friday saw blood and bodies in the lanes.
As the day rolled on, police vehicles crawled in and the village was soon swarming with policemen and mediapersons.
Family members of suspected accused were pulled out of their houses, as shrieks and screams rented the air.
“I can never forget that day. I still wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night. The screams and gunshots echo in the air,” said a young woman who did not wish to be named.
Himanshi Mishra, whose brother Prabhat Mishra was shot dead in an encounter for being a Vikas Dubey associate, said: “My father is in jail and my brother is dead. I now live here with my mother and grandmother. There are no men left in the house. The police say my brother and father were members of Vikas Dubey gang but we never felt anything like that.”
A large number of families in Bikru have either lost a member in the police encounters or their men are in jail.
“The police almost went berserk after the July 3 incident. They would pick up anyone who belonged to a particular community and it was left to us to prove our innocence. I was kept in a lockup for 23 days and beaten up at regular intervals. My only fault was that I had come to the village to meet my grandparents from Agra where I work as a salesman,” said a youth of the village.
The palatial house where Vikas Dubey lived has already been reduced to rubble and the three iron gates lie on the ground. A couple of luxury cars and two tractors can be seen in the compound. No one from the slain gangster’s family has visited the demolished building after the incident.
The residents of the village are wary of venturing anywhere near the demolished house.
A police presence is visible in Bikru village, though much less compared to the past months.
“We are still living in fear because of the police. You can never say when they will come and pick up someone,” said an elderly man, who claims that his son was picked up twice by the police in April.
“I have finally sent him away to my sister’s house,” he said.
Families that were friendly with Vikas Dubey now refuse to own up to any relationship with the gangster.
After all, failure is an orphan.
Richa Dubey, the wife of Vikas Dubey, has her own heart-wrenching story to tell.
“We are alive but we are actually dead. My father-in-law and mother-in-law do not have a place to live. Everything that we had has been confiscated. It has been a year but to date, I have not even got the death certificate of my husband. I have been running from pillar to post but have failed to get the document because some policeman wrote his father’s name as Rakesh Dubey instead of Ram Kumar Dubey. I have met all top officials, but no one is willing to help,” she said.
Richa said that she has been selling her jewellery to pay the school fees of her sons.
“My elder son has done three years of medicine but I cannot afford to continue paying his fees. If I get the death certificate, at least I can get some money from my husband’s insurance policies for my children’s education,” she said.
Richa said that she had been calling up all top officials, but no one has responded.
“I have never defended Vikas or what he did, but his family is not criminal. The government should have killed us in an encounter too, if they felt we did not have the right to live,” she said.
Apart from Richa, four other women, who are prima facie not guilty in the Bikru massacre case, but are paying a price for the Dubey connection, are Khushi Dubey, who was married for three days when her husband Amar Dubey was shot dead by the police, Kshama Dubey (mother of Amar Dubey), Shanti Dubey (mother of another accused, Hiru Dubey) and Rekha Agnihotri, who worked as a cook in the house of Vikas Dubey.
All four women have been in jail for the past 11 months. Rekha’s seven-year-old daughter and two-and-a-half-year-old son are also in jail with her.
“Can anything be more criminal than this? Four women who had nothing to do with the incident are languishing in jail and two minor children are also being scarred for life,” said Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh, who has been trying to secure their release.
These women are among the 45 accused in the Bikru case who are presently in jail.

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