Armed gang lops off man’s hands

A drunken horseplay between two groups of politically opposed local youth during Onam has, in the past three months, caused at least four incidents of gang violence in Vilappil panchayat, which has left several people injured, houses ransacked, and the public peace in the locality seriously undermined.

The latest incident of violence was reported early on Tuesday when an armed gang trespassed into the house of their political rival, Arun of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), and lopped off his father’s hands after beating his mother unconscious.

In retaliation, six men travelling on three motorcycles and wielding swords hacked Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist Sreejith in front of a tea-stall at around 11.30 a.m. the same day.

The police said Sreejith, who was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries, was unlikely to have had any link with the attack on Arun’s house.

The attacks triggered a strike-like situation in the locality.

Most shops remained closed and only a few citizens ventured out in cars and on motorcycles. Autorickshaws and taxis remained off the road. Local residents found it difficult to commute to the city.

M. Muhammad Iqbal, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nedumangad, said the police had booked Chandran, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Vilappil panchayat member, in connection with the attack.

The police have charged him with attempted murder, conspiracy, trespass, rioting, and violation of the Arms Act.

How it all began

The vicious cycle of tit-for-tat attacks commenced on August 31, when a set of youth headed by Arun teased a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist for sporting a rakhi, a thread of coloured cloth tied on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, a predominantly north Indian festival.

Soon the horseplay between the youth, both neighbours, turned into a full-blown street fight with their supporters entering the fray. Several were injured in the violence.

The “rakhi incident” sparked off an almost permanent stand-off between DYFI and RSS activists in the locality. They fought each other several times in the past months, though only a few of such confrontations were reported to the police.

Matters came to a head again when persons suspected to be RSS activists waylaid an itinerant on the suspicion that he was Arun.

The police said Arun was accused in over 20 cases, including assault and rioting. They were yet to arrest any person in connection with attack on the DYFI activist’s house. They said they had detained a few suspects for questioning. An official said it was likely that the gang that ransacked Arun’s house could have been from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.