Since January, north Chennai has witnessed an increasing number of clashes and killings

Gang wars between emerging groups and established gangsters seem to have sparked off in parts of north Chennai. On Thursday, six persons were arrested in connection with the murder of S. Venketash, a notorious gangster in Old Washermenpet last week.

Police said the arrested men were: ‘Appalam’ Prakash (36), a resident of Attipattu in Manali and the main accused, Baskar (36), a classmate of Prakash and long-time friend, as well as Anandan (28), Desappan Prakash (25), Arun Kumar (24) and Karthik (23).

Another accused, Charan (24), who is believed to be a hired killer from Vysarpadi, is absconding. The others were remanded and lodged at Puzhal prison.

A case of murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

On August 10, 40-year-old Venketash, who had at least three murder charges against him, was hacked to death by a seven-member gang in front of his home in Big Market, Old Washermenpet. He died on the spot.

“Venkatesh was murdered as the main accused, Prakash wanted to take revenge against him for sheltering and supporting a rival of Prakash’s,” said a senior police officer.  

According to the police, Venketash had been an active gangster up until two years ago, but had then abandoned his life of crime and was making a living by selling packaged water. However, since he had been associated with several big gangs, members of various gangs in the locality spent time in his office and kept in touch with him.

Venketash had had cordial relations with one of the area’s notorious gangsters, ‘Cutlet’ Ravi, an enemy of Prakash’s.

“As Venketash wanted his water business to run, he did not side with any particular gang. But Prakash wanted him to break off ties with Ravi. To avoid doing so, Venketash paid a large sum of money to Prakash.

But Prakash was not satisfied. He suspected that Venketash was providing Ravi with details as to the whereabouts of Prakash’s gang members,” the officer said.

From January this year, police said, there have been frequent clashes between emerging groups and the old, ‘dormant’ gangsters, as the new groups have been trying to take over localities that have been held by old gangsters for decades.

The more violence-prone localities including Vysarpadi, Pulianthope, Kasimedu and Tondiarpet, have been witness to several of these clashes.

‘Cutlet’ Ravi, a gangster who has more than 35 cases registered against him, has been controlling portions of the neighbourhood for decades. Prakash on the other hand, is an emerging gangster with four cases against him, of which three are for murder. The two were rivals because they both sought to control the same area.

Police said that with these clashes, it is older and ‘reformed’ gangsters who are caught in the middle, for supporting one or the other of the groups.

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