Gangster Shaji, alias Kannadi Shaji, 33, who was involved in several criminal cases, including murder and ransacking of public office, was hacked to death by unidentified persons near Kowdiar here on Wednesday.

Shaji, a resident of Sree Chithira Nagar, Kowdiar, was attacked by unidentified persons when he was travelling with his friend Ajith on the pipeline road, 500 m away from Kowdiar Junction.

The incident took place 50 m away from his house where he was staying with his mother. Shaji reportedly was going towards Ambalamukku side to buy milk when he was attacked by those waiting in a car. According to the police, there were four persons in the car that was parked for quite some time anticipating Shaji. The victim sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the Medical College Hospital. He was declared dead on arrival at the casualty wing at 8.50 a.m.

Shaji's friend Ajith, spared from the attack, fled after rushing him to the hospital and on learning that he had died. Later, the police traced him and obtained valuable clues about the incident. In his statement to the police, Ajith said that Ambalamukku Krishnakumar, a rival gangster, and one Sanish were among the assailants.

Investigators said Shaji sustained 23 injuries and six of them were fatal. The police are yet to identify the weapons used for the attack.

The body was handed over to the relatives after a post-mortem examination at the Medical College Hospital and was cremated at Shanti Kavadam at Thycaud, later in the evening.

Gang war

The enmity between the gangs and the alleged role of Shaji in the recent murder of ‘Kokkote' Shyam are cited as the reasons behind the gruesome murder. Shaji was earlier detained under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act (KAPA) for his involvement in criminal cases.

He was released on bail a month and a half ago and since then the rival gang was tailing him. Investigators said nine criminal cases had been pending against Shaji and that he had been charge-sheeted in six already. Three cases were under investigation.

A team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Cantonment) Haridas and Circle Inspector (Peroorkada) Jayachandran has launched an investigation into the incident. It took place in a quiet residential area and close to the office of the Kerala Water Authority, frequented by many. Shops at Kowdiar were closed after the news of the murder spread in the locality.

The murder comes close on the heels of the October-5 incident in which two 23-year-old youths were hacked to death at Aramkallu, four km from Peroorkada.

The Rural police have arrested all the 12 accused in the murder of ‘Kokkote' Shyam and Praveen.