Fights on court premises

The city police will deploy plainclothesmen and women equipped with concealed spy cameras to cover the Vanchiyoor court precincts, which was the stage for several fights and stand-offs between criminal gangs recently.

The situation had prompted district judge K. Ramakrishnan to summon City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar last month for a meeting to ensure the security of the court. Despite the action, matters again came to a head this week when a Puthenpalam Colony-based gang attacked a police officer, Surendranath, for bringing its leader, Puthenpalam Rajesh, handcuffed to the court.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating Rajesh, an under-trial prisoner, on the charge of destroying evidence in the Paul Muthoot George murder case. The city police had earlier booked him on the charge of stockpiling crude bombs and sharp-edged weapons at his den in the colony.

The police have arrested three of his associates, Dini Babu, Prasanth and Jayan, in connection with the incident. They said seven members of the gang, who arrived armed on motorbikes and attacked the officer, were absconding. The police suspect that some officers in charge of escorting under-trial prisoners from court could be on the pay roll of the gang.

They said these corrupt elements could have informed the gang that it was on Surendranath's insistence that Rajesh was escorted handcuffed, thereby prompting the attack on him.

In January, a group of remand prisoners fought each other inside a police bus which transported them from the prison to the court. Satheesh Kumar alias Soju, a gang leader facing trail in several underworld murder cases, was injured in the fight. Chief Judicial Magistrate R.R. Kamath had emerged out of his chamber hearing the ruckus. Lawyers who witnessed the incident alleged that the policemen who were there did little to break up the fight.

On Mr. Kamath's direction, Judicial First Class Magistrate-I V. Sathish Kumar recorded Soju's statement and issued production warrants against six other remand prisoners who were in the police vehicle with Soju.

‘Search vehicles'

Sources said that criminal elements came to the court with swords, machetes and country bombs hidden inside their vehicles to protect their leaders or settle scores with their underworld opponents. They suggested that the police search suspect vehicles and frisk anti-social elements entering the court precincts. They said that close police surveillance of the court would reassure lawyers and other litigants.

It would also prevent peddlers from secretly handing over drugs, chiefly marijuana, to prisoners.