A notorious gangster Balaji alias ‘Kakkathoppu’ Balaji (34), wanted in 39 cases including extortions and murders, was arrested at his hideout in Villupuram.
Known to be a key figure in the gang-war scene in north Chennai, Balaji fell into the police net after a three-month-long hunt.
According to the police, Balaji, a native of Puducherry, came to Chennai as a young boy in the late 80s and resided at BRN Garden, locally known as Kakkathoppu, in Broadway. As a teenager he made a living by lifting loads at a lorry shed in Muthialpet and his life of crime began there.
“He operated under rowdy Kothavalchavadi Mani in the early 90s and started to extort money from lorry owners and traders. There was constant rivalry among various gangs then, including the one led by Kozhikadai Babu. over collecting money from traders,” said a senior police officer. Balaji later extended his area of influence to Chennai Harbour and adjoining areas, extorting money from lorry owners and businessmen. He came under the city police’s radar in 1997, following rivalry with other gangs in north Chennai that led to murders committed in cold blood by him and his men.
The police said he was suspected of being involved in kidnappings here and in Andhra Pradesh, following which he was booked for a case in the neighbouring state and lodged in prison for a while there. He was also booked under the Goondas Act here.
“Balaji runs a network involving extortion and was booked in 39 cases including those in Elephant Gate, Seven Wells and Muthialpet police limits. Three years ago he was listed as a notorious gangster and severe police action was underway against him. But his strong political clout is said to have bailed him out from police action and he fled the city,” said an officer attached to a special team involved in his recent arrest.
“We were in pursuit of Balaji for the last three months in connection with an extortion case registered with the Muthialpet police. Meanwhile, it was suspected that his men were involved in a few attempts to murder cases in north Chennai. Following specific information, he was rounded-up in Villipuram on Sunday night and was brought to the city. He was remanded to custody and sent to Puzhal prison,” the officer added.