Bikru (Uttar Pradesh), July 3 (IANS) Exactly two years ago on this day, Bikru was sleeping peacefully when gunshots rent the air.
People woke up with a start to a series of screams and cries in the darkness.
Twenty minutes later, there was silence and then headlights went on in the darkness.
Life has not been the same ever since for the village and its people.
The massacre of eight policemen in the Bikru village, allegedly by gangster Vikas Dubey and his men on July 3, 2020, has changed the lives of people in this village.
'Almost every house in this village has at least one person who is either in jail or was brutally thrashed by the police after the massacre. They have suffered fractures and many of them have even lost their jobs. Some are unable to work now. The incident has taken a toll on every life,' says Ram Chandar (name changed ), a local resident who also suffered a fracture in hip bone.
A few families have left Bikru after the incident.
'We were being regularly harassed by the police just because our house is located near Vikas Dubey's house. The police presumed that we were a part of his gang and every day someone from the family would be picked up for questioning,' said Vivek Kumar, who has left Bikru along with his brother, uncle and their families and migrated to another district.
Nearly 54 persons were arrested, most of them from the village, after the July 3 massacre, and all of them are in jail. They have been denied bail and trial is yet to begin. A total of 80 cases have been registered by the police in the case.
Arms licenses of 30 accused have been cancelled. The administration has seized assets worth about Rs 70 crore of other gang members, including Vikas Dubey, the main kingpin of the Bikru incident who was killed in a police encounter.
Four women, who are prima facie not guilty in the Bikru massacre case but are paying a price for the Dubey connection, are also in jail since the past two years.
They include Khushi Dubey, a minor 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.
Rekha's seven-year-old daughter and two-and-a-half-year-old son are also in jail with her.
Much hue and cry was raised by the opposition parties during the Assembly elections for the release of these women but the issue dissolved as soon as the polls were over.
The village still has a strong police presence and the local people do not even venture near the partially demolished residence of Vikas Dubey.
Two days ago, the police recovered Vikas Dubey's Scorpio car from the Syahpur village and the owner of the plot from where the car has been recovered is being questioned.
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 two years but our bank accounts have been seized and we are finding it impossible to make ends meet.'
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 for 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.
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