When Imtiaz Khan murder accused Aneesh and members of his gang were produced before the Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate here on Tuesday, some of them walked in with T-shirts which bore the logo ‘AAA: You are booked’. The t-shirts and the logo – with ‘AAA’ representing ‘Anikkattu Aneesh Antony’ — is only an indication of a clear shift in the city’s crime scene.
Even the investigation team, under Sunil Jacob, Assistant Commissioner, Ernakulam, who spent many days and nights tracking Aneesh thought they were after a criminal gang engaged in ‘quotation’ works. But the probe led them to blow the lid off a well-organised syndicate of young criminals.
Aneesh, also known as Maradu Aneesh, was brought to the city along with four others of his gang after he surrendered at a court in Madurai. Aji, also known as ‘Patti’ Aji of Palarivattom, Saneesh of Palakad and Sone Kumar and Easwaran of Tamil Nadu have also been accused of murdering the young businessman, whose body was found inside his car outside his residential colony on December 28.
But interestingly, preliminary investigations show that only Aneesh and Aji had a clear idea about what they were going to do with Imtiaz Khan.
The rest of the gang had assumed that it was just another assault ‘quotation’. Aneesh was planning to torture Imtiaz and make him divulge information about Naseer, also known as ‘Bhai’ Naseer, a rival gang leader.
Imtiaz Khan had been a close associate of Naseer and was running a real estate and unskilled labour exporting firm on behalf of the latter.
This is for the first time that the City Police are getting an idea about how organised Aneesh’s gang was. More importantly, as a senior police official pointed out, the cracking of the case was crucial or else it would have sent wrong messages to the city’s young crowd, whom the gangsters observed for prospective recruits.
Money was the key element that held Aneesh’s gang together. He doled out money freely and arranged pleasure trips for the members of his gang. As one of them told the interrogating police officer, he was assured that Aneesh would provide him with money and housing even if he chose to leave the group.
Aneesh made his entry into the underworld with Naseer, before falling out with him. Both then looked to settle scores through bloodshed. Aneesh was involved in smuggling spirits initially before employing his gang to provide security cover for spirit smuggling and hawala money movement.
Aneesh operated from outside the State, mostly from Coimbatore. The gang also provided bouncers to pubs.
Gang rivalries were set to generate new equations in the crime scene in the city. Many city outskirts like Panangad emerged as crime hotspots, leading the City Police to carve out new police stations. A new one was formed at Maradu and another one is underway at Elamakkara.