The police team investigating the murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader T.P. Chandrasekharan is on the trail of the assailants, allegedly hailing from politically volatile areas of Kannur bordering Vadakara Taluk in Kozhikode.
The investigators have got adequate clues about the identity of the culprits following the finding of the vehicle used by them.
Led by a criminal
Highly placed police sources in the district said the investigation had zeroed in on a seven-member gang led by a known criminal hailing from Palloor, near Mahe, and Chokli, who was involved in several criminal cases.
The police identified him as Vazhappadachi Rafeekh who, they said, was an accomplice of a known goon.
The police sources said Rafeekh was known to have close links with the local Communist Party of India(Marxist) [CPI(M)].
All the seven persons allegedly involved in the murder had been identified, they said, adding that three persons were taken into custody by the police for questioning.
The identity of the culprits was established after the Toyota Innova multi-utility vehicle (MUV) (KL58 D-8144) used by the assailants was found abandoned at a remote spot near Chokli on Saturday morning.
The champagne mica metallic colour private vehicle owned by K.P. Naveen Das of Thalassery was suspected to have been hired by the assailants.
The investigators confirmed that the culprits travelled in the vehicle and abandoned it in a clearing in the early hours of Saturday after realising that the police were scanning Toyota Innova vehicles on being tipped off that a vehicle of that make was used by the assailants.
570 vehicles scanned
Police officers here said 570-odd Toyota Innova MUVs had been scanned in the early hours of Saturday.
The police squad patrolling the area got the information that the vehicle had been found abandoned at a spot near Marankandy under the Chokli police station limits here.
The officers said though the culprits had cleaned the vehicle before abandoning it, one of the wheel cups of the vehicle had blood stains on it.
Missed the stains
They said the culprits could have missed the stains on the wheel cups in the dark.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Kannur Range) S. Sreejith and District Superintendent of Police Rahul R. Nair examined the vehicle. Officers from the Vadakara police station also reached the spot.
The police said that forensic and fingerprint experts examined the vehicle. The police also brought in sniffer dogs. Asked if the police had nabbed the vehicle owner, senior police officers here said he had been located.