Many high-profile cases defy investigation and languish in police files

Public memory is short. So goes the saying. But the investigation by police of certain high-profile cases appears to bear this out.

The city police are struggling to crack the suicide case involving a youth who set himself on fire on March 18 at a petrol pump at Goripalayam.

Police have not been able to establish the identity of the victim so far. At first, it was presumed that the youth was someone of unsound mind, left at a nearby dargah for treatment. His name, his address and other personal details remain a mystery.

Posters with a photograph of the body and an alert message sent by police to neighbouring districts evoked no positive response in order to ascertain his identity.

“Initially, some people had claimed to have seen him roaming in the vicinity of the petrol station. But the information was vague. It was not sufficient for us to proceed further in the case,” Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur said.

The police did not rule out sabotage as he had attempted to set a petrol pump on fire. As the State-wide anti-Sri Lankan agitation by students and political parties was at its peak, the police were quick to declare that the suicide had nothing to do with the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The victim had not shouted any slogan, the police reasoned.

However, this did not stop Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko from rushing to the Government Rajaji hospital to pay homage to the youth and declare him a martyr to the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The clues the police had were that he had undergone circumcision and wore jeans and a premier brand of underclothes. However, a few days later, the police found a dagger tattoo on one arm, which appeared as the burnt skin peeled off. “This kind of tattoo is not common in Tamil Nadu. We suspect that he could be from one of the Northern States. The details of the case have been sent to the State Crime Records Bureau for verification with missing persons cases reported across Tamil Nadu. The case is now in the process of being sent to the National Crime Records Bureau,” Mr. Mathur said. The police will now try to locate the place where such tattoos are common and try to establish his identity.

The attempt to identify the mystery man with north Indian migrant workers from the Kappalur industrial estate also hit a brick wall.

Another unsolved case that created a sensation relates to the attempt to murder former Local Administration Minister and M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin.

Mr. Stalin was received by a huge gathering of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam cadre when he arrived by the Pandian Express at the Madurai railway junction on July 31, 2006.

Later, it was reported that Suresh Kumar Pandey, a Central Reserve Police Force constable, providing security to the Minister, was taken to a hospital for injuries he sustained in his attempt to apprehend an unidentified man who tried to stab Mr. Stalin.

The Railway police had registered a case under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. Except for a small knife that was retrieved from the accused, the police had no other clues to identify the middle-aged man.

He was wearing a white shirt, was all the Hindi-speaking constable could recollect.

The constable claimed that communication problems and the cacophony of slogan shouting and drum beating prevented him from alerting people around the VIP. The suspect quickly vanished into the crowd.

Subsequently, the case was transferred to the CB-CID. Seven years on, there is no headway in cracking the identity of Mr. Stalin’s would-be assailant.

While Mr. Stalin brushed the incident aside claiming that he could not be bothered about such incidents after having chosen to be in public life, the police immediately enhanced his security cover from ‘Y’ category to ‘Z.’

The same scale of security continues for Mr. Stalin to this day, police sources said.

There were rumours doing the rounds that the entire case was ‘made up’ just to provide an enhanced security cover for Mr. Stalin, who eventually became the Deputy Chief Minister of the State.

A murder case reported in Anna Nagar in 2003 similarly languishes in police files. The murder of Vani, a young housewife, who was found dead with her throat slit in her house assumed much significance because it was the second case of a woman murdered in the posh locality of Anna Nagar on the same day -- April 23, 2003.

The first victim, T. Mayurani, a student from Sri Lanka, reported earlier in the day, saw its logical conclusion — trial in a court of law — despite the police reversing their theory on the motive and having changed the prime accused during the course of investigation.

However, the High Court acquitted the accused stating that the police could not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

But the city police were baffled by the Vani murder case as they found no scientific clue. The initial suspicion fell on her husband as he was the first to be seen at the scene of crime. He had blood stains on his hands, the police said.

Besides interrogating the relatives of the deceased, the police also examined neighbours.

They even suspected that the case could have been a burglary attempt that resulted in murder.

“Except for the fact that the throat was slashed with a sharp weapon, we had no scientific evidence such as finger prints at the scene of crime. Besides, there was no sign of any struggle by the victim. The interrogation yielded no leads as the neighbours had not noticed anything suspicious,” a police officer citing investigation reports said.

The murder of former DMK Minister, T. Kiruttinan within a few days in the same Anna Nagar police station limits that attracted much attention, diverted focus from the Vani murder case.

Subsequently, the case was declared “undetected” and closed in November 2005, the police said.

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