The Dalit president of a village panchayat near Tambaram was hacked to death by an armed gang on Tuesday morning. R. Purushothaman, president of Mannivakkam Village Panchayat, about 8 kilometres from Tambaram, and a member of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, was on his way towards Mannivakkam ‘koot road’ (intersection) when an armed gang wielding knives and sickles pounced on him between the Mannivakkam Mosque and the police outpost and hacked him to death on the spot.

Tension prevailed in the area as his supporters and angry residents of Mannivakkam and Otteri Extension assembled at the spot. His wife Shanthi is a district representative of the party’s Kancheepuram unit.

Kancheepuram district police said preliminary investigations clearly established that the murder was a fallout of political rivalry and personal enmity.

Mannivakkam, along with neighbouring Urapakkam, have earned notoriety for many instances of murder in broad daylight. The murder of Menaka, the Dalit panchayat president of Urapakkam inside the panchayat office in 2000, and G.N.R. Kumar, a president of the same panchayat a couple of years ago, had shocked residents of these villages. Several functionaries of various political parties have also been killed by hired men in these panchayats. G.N.R. Kumar was travelling in his car when a gang hurled country-made bombs before hacking him to death.

Members of political parties and residents live in constant fear as murders and violent incidents due to rivalries between gangs have become a regular phenomenon.

As many as 10 persons have been hacked to death in the recent past.

An AIADMK functionary, Ravi was murdered in October 1998 and Kothandam, a DMK supporter, two months later.

In April 1999, another DMK supporter, Velumani, was killed, and Ganesan, an accused in the case, was hacked to death as he was being brought to court in September that year.

Two popular functionaries of the AIADMK, R.K. Kumar and Adikesavan, were murdered at Kancheepuram and near Chengalpattu respectively. One Ponnurangam was hacked to death on May 31 2000, and Kanniappan, an AIADMK sympathiser, was done to death on September 19 the same year.

A wave of shock spread through the district when ‘Nondi’ Kumar, a well-known DMK functionary, was hacked to death after having been dragged out from his house in the afternoon. The gang which arrived in a car brutally attacked him. A profusely bleeding Kumar fell unconscious and assuming that he was dead, the assailants got into the car, but when Kumar woke up and called out for help, they returned and hacked him until he died. Tense moments were witnessed in the Mannivakkam area following the murder.

The murders continued with AIADMK activist Purushothaman being murdered in Guduvanchery on December 13, 2000 and Senguttuvan of the DMK hacked to death in February 2001.

A particularly shocking incident amidst this spiral of violence was the murder of Ms. Menaka, president of the Urappakkam panchayat, inside her chamber on the panchayat premises in broad daylight in March 2000.

The murder took place right in front of Mr. Nehru, her brother, who barely managed to escape.

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