Police rely on nick names for correct identification
His name is Baskar. But his friends, accomplices and police know him as “Vedikundu (bomb)” Baskar.
History sheeter Mani of S.S. Colony is better known as “Minnal” Mani.
He got the prefix “Minnal” because he would flee the scene of crime in a fraction of a second.
“Like lightning, the accused would escape after snatching a gold chain. Catching him was a great challenge,” said a police officer.
Today, in police circles and among the self-appointed dons of Madurai, simple ordinary names such as Baskar or Mani are passé. But if the same names carry an alias such as “Vedikundu” or “Minnal,” they strike a chord.
Recently, when news broke of DMK strongman N. Suresh Babu’s killing by an armed gang, people asked “You mean ‘Pottu’ Suresh?” When the police interacted with the crime reporters following the incident and a police officer mentioned that the role of V.P. Pandi’s accomplices could not be ruled out, pat came the response from the other side, “You mean “Attack” Pandi.”
How did N. Suresh Babu become “Pottu” Suresh? Senior DMK members say it was the late leader P.T.R. Palanivelrajan who christened Suresh with the nickname “Pottu”. There were apparently two men with the name Suresh. And because one Suresh used to sport a tilak on his forehead, he became “Pottu” Suresh.
Pandi, a common name in Madurai, was given the nickname “Attack” because he used to sport a typical hair style of those days called the “Attack cut”!
Deputy Superintendent of Police Jesu Jeyapaul says for an easy identification, habitual offenders are given nick names by Station House Officers and station writers.
“In a criminal investigation, when more than one person is secured with the same name, the police give the nick names for correct identification. At the time of trial, there should not be any mix-up,” he adds.
Long serving officers of the police department have interesting stories to tell about the ‘nick name’ culture.
Recalls an officer who joined the service two decades ago as Sub-Inspector and was assigned the task of tracking burglars following frequent complaints of house break-ins by residents of Jaihindpuram, which fell in his jurisdiction.
“I nabbed a few suspects but did not realise the peculiar problem after they were arrested. The names of the suspects were identical and caused a lot of confusion. The SHO came to my rescue and gave each of the accused a nickname. That was my maiden experience in solving the name problem!,” he reminisces.
Retired officer Balasubramanian explains that habitual offenders are given aliases under three categories.
One is based on their modus operandi of committing crimes, the second is based on their appearance and the third depends on the area or locality they belong to.
It is not always the police but also accomplices and friends of the accused who give them the nick names.
A senior officer, who has served in many districts of Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, points out that giving nick names is a popular practice in some southern districts, particularly Madurai, and a few stations in North Chennai for the hardcore habitual offenders.
A robber evading arrest and who was finally caught in Madurai a decade ago, was known to carry just a piece of barbed wire as his weapon. His name was Murugan. But Police identified him as “Mullu Kambi” (barbed wire) Murugan as he was known to launch an attack with a barbed wire before committing a robbery.
There is the interesting case of Ravi, also identified as Ravikumar alias R.K. by the Madurai city police.
When Ravi came under the police scanner, investigations by a Sub-Inspector indicated that Ravi was actually selling dogs to his clients. So he was nick named “Dog” Ravi. Apart from habitual offenders, even political functionaries are fond of identifying themselves with the locality they hail from.