Four youths were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the murder of a man accused in several cases and his advocate in Poonamallee on April 30. A search is on for the mastermind and 16 others, according to police.

Speaking to mediapersons on Thursday morning, Chennai Suburban Police Commissioner S. R. Jangid said Chenna Kesavan (43) and his advocate Bhagat Singh (26) were leaving the Poonamallee (Bomb Blasts) court when a group of nine men hacked them to death on the spot.

The assailants were led by ‘Arcot' Suresh, who is wanted in several crime cases, including murder. His personal rivalry with Kesavan was the motive for the murder.

Bhagat Singh tried to prevent the gang from assaulting Kesavan, but he too was attacked, and died after suffering a couple of blows. Shyamala, a woman advocate and two other men who were also seated in the car, escaped.

Several special crime teams were formed and investigations led the policemen on the trail of Suresh.

Kesavan was an accused in 31 cases, including three murders. He was detained under the Goondas Act three times. He was part of the dreaded Chera gang and one of the accused in the murder of ‘Vellai' Ravi in the Egmore court complex in 1996. He had come to the Poonamallee court in connection with a case relating to hurling of explosives in a restaurant in T.Nagar in 2001.

Mr. Jangid said a group was closely monitoring the movement of Kesavan in the Poonamallee court and passed on information to the assailants waiting on the Kumananchavadi-Mangadu road.

M.Velmurugan, A.Rakesh and S.Raji, all 24 years old and E.Sathish (23), who were arrested at Paarivakkam near Poonamallee, were among the nine assailants.

Suresh was arrested sometime ago by the Selaiyur police on charges of threatening and harassing operators in a mud quarrying site. He spent 45 days in prison and was released a few days ahead of the Poonamallee murder, Mr. Jangid added.

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