The police have been hard at work sending those with a criminal record out of Chennai until counting is over

City police in recent days have taken up the taxing task of tabulating a list of those with a criminal record in the city who could be potential trouble-makers during the elections and until the counting is over. The list features 31 criminals with South Chennai topping the chart with 16.

The Commissioner of Police, who also holds magisterial powers, sought the preparation of the list from his 12 Deputy Commissioners who undertook the compilation of anti-social elements — well known in police circles as the “Pokkiri pattiyal”— in their respective zones including each and every police station. The next step – cops personally informed the persons in the list. The time given for the exit is one week.

The police action is enforced through Section 51 (A) of Madras City Police Act 1888 which validates barring a law and order offender from entering the city for a period of six months. Then, police personnel from the intelligence section and informants in the respective areas will be alerted and asked to confirm if the anti-social elements have left town.

While some of these people have packed their bags, others remain active here. But they are being tailed by police teams with the Commissionerate insisting on ‘strictly no menace’ during the Lok Sabha elections and their immediate exit from city limits.

The first to get on the job were personnel from the Pulianthope police district who showed the door to gangsters Kalaimani alias Katthi Kalaimani (23) of Vyasarpadi and Pannerselvam (43) of Kodungaiyur in the first week of March. We are told the others will follow suit.

*** *** ***

Naan Pazhaya Rowdy’ (I am an old rowdy) – some of us would have uttered these words in a jest. But the 31 anti-social elements who have to temporarily depart from the city may be saying these words seriously in some remote corner of the State.

With the police cracking down on them and ensuring they leave the city, most are in the process of returning to their hometowns. However, the question that lingers in the minds of officers is whether the criminals will abandon their old habits or return with a bang. “Anti-social elements will change only when they leave their den and their peer group. A criminal such as Chera changed his mind after he moved to Madurai,” says a senior police officer

Many anti-social elements, who have left the city, have promised they would leave the path of crime by taking up an occupation to support their family. “But the question is whether it would be lucrative enough for them. Some of them have been earning in lakhs by committing various crimes and the money they earn through hard work will be a pittance,” an officer feels.

(Reporting by Petlee Peter and Vivek Narayanan)

More In: Chennai | Columns