Tit-for-tat violence involving goonda gangs that claimed three lives in the past one month in the capital city has triggered a sense of insecurity among residents, and has become a major concern for the law-enforcing agencies.
The revenge attacks being meticulously carried out after a lull by hit squads, such as the one on Wednesday in the quiet residential area of Kowdiar, have come as a shock to the citizens and the police.
The residents are yet to recover from the shock of the daylight murder of ‘Kannadi' Shaji hardly 50 m away from his house in Sree Chithira Nagar.
The pipeline road that acts as a bypass for those going from Kowdiar to Toll Junction is always busy as there are many tuition centres and shops on the stretch that also houses the office of the Kerala Water Authority.
The murder of Shaji and that of ‘Kokkote' Shyam and Praveen at Aramkallu (rural police limits), near Peroorkada, on October 5 have showed that there is no let-up in the gang conflicts in the city and suburbs.
The emergence of Kowdiar-Ambalamukku-Peroorkada stretch as a ‘crime capital' of the city is also turning to be a concern for the police.
Investigators said over a dozen criminals, including Ambalamukku Krishnakumar, are operating from the stretch, and disturbing the peace in the residential area. The manner in which the ‘operation' was carried out shows that Shaji was being tailed for quite some time by the rival gang.
The mushrooming of the apartment complexes, real estate interests, and reclamation of the paddy fields in the area are cited as the main reasons for the thriving of the criminal gangs here. The sudden change in the tactics of the criminal gangs—from inflicting injuries highly visible but not of a grave nature to revenge attacks—will now give sleepless nights to the police.
An official who is part of the investigation said the murder of Shaji was a continuation of the gangland murder in Aramkallu. Shyam, one of the deceased, was a close aide of Ambalamukku Krishnakumar and the police are probing whether the murder of Shaji was in retaliation to it.
The investigators are also looking into the role of other gangsters, who are reportedly keeping a low profile for some time, in the murder of Shaji. Ajith, who was travelling with Shaji at the time of the incident, is in police custody and is being questioned.
The police are also probing why Ajith was spared from the attack.Shaji was released from prison a month and a half ago after being detained under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act (KAPA).
Officials said the revenge attacks would only intensify once those arrested in the October 5 murder case at Aramkallu came out on bail.
The police have information that the gang members of Shaji are regrouping on the Kowdiar-Peroorkada stretch to carry out revenge attacks.
The city had seen several gangster-killings, including those of Gundukadu Shaji, Vayaran Selvan, Parunthu Nazeer, Pallan Gopi, Kunnukuzhy Franchi, LTTE Kabir, Vettukadu Johnny, Vishnu, Althara Bineesh, Mottamoodu Shaji, and Kottuvadi Ravi, among others. Of them, Parunthu Nazeer, a resident of Kuravankonam, was killed near Toll Junction.
Meanwhile, the investigation in the case is on.
Investigators said they would have to depend on scientific evidence to bring to book the accused.