A panchayat president was murdered in Kannigaiper village in Tiruvallur district on Wednesday, allegedly by political rivals. The incident took place early in the morning near the bus stop on Periyapalayam Road. An armed gang hurled bombs and hacked Dravida Balu alias A. Balu (62), who later succumbed to injuries on his way to hospital.

Balu, a DMK functionary, who has served as panchayat president on many occasions, had set out for a walk from his house in Periyar Colony early in the morning. He stopped at a butcher’s shop owned by his friend Mohammed Basha and was talking to him and the former’s elder brother Dhanaraj, who had joined them. “Around 6.30 a.m., a Tata Indica car carrying four men stopped near the shop and the passengers hurled three country-made bombs at the shop. Balu, Dhanaraj and Basha were severely injured in the attack. The assailants rushed towards the shop, hacked Balu with knives and sickles and then sped away,” said Superintendent of Police (Tiruvallur), Rupesh Kumar Meena.

Villagers rushed Balu to a private hospital nearby but he died on the way. His body was sent to Government Stanley Hospital for post-mortem examination.

The death of Balu, a well-known personality among residents and a panchayat president on a number of occasions since 1986, led to an uproar in the locality. Residents, who suspected the involvement of Balu’s rival Stalin, also a resident of Kannigaiper, set fire to his house. They later staged a road roko demanding that Stalin, also a DMK activist, and his gang members be apprehended. A larger posse of policemen has been stationed in the area to avoid law and order problems.

While Balu had served two terms as panchayat president, his wife Selvi had served three. In 2006, an AIADMK candidate won the election. However, in the 2011 local body elections, Balu was re-elected after defeating Stalin in a close contest.

“This irked Stalin and his followers who had confronted Balu on various occasions and now, led to this brutal killing,” said an investigating officer attached to the Periyapalayam police station, where a case of murder has been registered.

A hunt is on to apprehend Stalin and his four accomplices, police sources said. Dhanaraj and Basha are out of danger.

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