He was approached to settle scores with rivals, writes L. Srikrishna

His name is Raja, but his friends know him as “Appala” Raja. The 33-year-old man, who started his career as a casual worker in an ‘appalam’ (pappad) making unit in Jaihindpuram, while in his teens, turned into a big ‘dada’ (gang leader) as he grew up.

A senior officer in Madurai City Police revealed that Raja’s name figured in many grave crimes, including half-a-dozen murders in various police station limits in Madurai City, district, Tirupur and Sriperumpudur. Though he indulged in petty crimes in suburbs of Madurai such as Othakadai and Tirumangalam in 2005, Raja allegedly committed a murder in Jaihindpuram in 2006. From here, his name stopped reflecting in small crimes. Gradually, he was looked as a ‘dada,’ who was approached to settle scores with rivals, the officer said.

Then, the second murder was committed in Austinpatti, near here, in 2011. Though he gave a slip to the police now and then, he had frequented prisons or went underground. In 2012, when the murder of a businessman, identified as R.P.G. Kumaran in Sriperumbudur, hit media headlines, Raja’s name figured in the list of accused.

Following his confession, Raja was detained under Goondas Act by the Sriperumpudur police. “He had killed businessman Kumaran for a price. When he came out after a year, he got acquainted with some of the DMK youth wing office-bearers in Madurai and was designated ward secretary of Jaihindpuram,” the police officer said and added that Raja was a key accused in the Andiappan murder case, reported a month ago near Madurai. In this connection, he had surrendered in the Judicial Magistrate court which sent him to judicial custody.

Another Inspector of Police said Raja’s modus operandi was to threaten unsuspecting persons and rob their property. After being identified as a leader of a gang by his accomplices such as ‘Pillayar’ Ganesan and ‘Attack’ Nagaraj, he had a number of rivals in Madurai and southern districts. There were as many as 16 cases pending against him. He had surrendered after he started receiving threat calls from his rivals, the officer noted.

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