Tamil Nadu: Crime

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Incidents in Tamil Nadu where killers were hired to bump off high profile people; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jan 27 2016

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Hired hitmen

The Times of India, Jan 27 2016

A Selvaraj

From southern towns to Chennai's dens, the birth & biz of hired hitmen  On January 11, vice president of Kalpataru Power Transmission Lim ited, V Venkateshwaralu, left a pharmacy and was about to board his car when two men on abike hacked him to death. The assailants killed the executive, left his driver seriously injured in less than a minute, and fled. After the roadside murder of neurosurgeon Dr Subbiah, which was caught on camera, in September 2013, this was the second high profile and sensational killing in public. While Dr Subbiah was murdered because of a property dispute, Venkateshwaralu was killed because he had cancelled contracts. The similarities don't end here. In both cases, the murderers were from south ern districts. Three men from Kanyakumari killed Dr Subbiah and assailants from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi bumped off Venkateshwaralu.

Sources say easy money and a slow legal process, during which many murder suspects come out on bail within three months of arrest, have lured youths to this deadly trade. “A suspect can get bail within 90 days if the law enforcement agency does not submit a chargesheet,“ said senior counsel and Madras high court lawyer V Kannadasan.

“Filing of chargesheets is delayed in most murder cases due to the lethargic attitude of police personnel. The assailants threaten witnesses who turn hostile.The case weakens in the process,“ he said.

While movies tend to show an organised criminal, suita bly wearing a black suit, with sophisticated weapons eliminating the `target', the reality s different.In the case of Venkateshwaralu, the mastermind Muthu Pandi, a contrac or, approached first-time of enders Siva and Muthu hrough one Arul Jothi. Police said Muthu Pandi handed over Rs 2 lakh which the trio shared.In the murder of neurosurgeon Dr Subbiah, said a policeman, the three hirelings were given Rs 50,000 each.

According to retired police officer B Arvindan, of late, many plots are being hatched n prison.“The prison grounds bring first time offenders and notorious criminals together.Many petty offenders commit serious crimes once they are released,“ he said. “This shows how ineffective the rehabilitation programme is for people in conflict with law.And since society treats most offenders as outcastes, they are driven to more serious crimes to earn a livelihood,“ he said.

A police officer, who has served in Tirunelveli, says lack of education, especially among the poor in southern districts, and social isolation force many petty offenders to pick up arms. But that said, very few criminals in Chennai and northern parts of the state turn contract killers.

Apolice officer handling the anti-gangster unit said, “Criminals here are aware of the consequences of murdering a person. They can earn several lakhs, and even in crores, by merely settling a land dispute in a kangaroo court instead.“

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