Three men were arrested by Chennai Suburban Police in connection with the murder of a 70-year-old woman in Shankar Nagar on Friday.

The arrest was made within a few hours after the police received information. Briefing reporters on Saturday, Chennai Suburban Police Commissioner S.R. Jangid said Rajammal (70) was found dead by her daughter Govindammal when she returned to their house on Bhaktavatsalam Street from work around 6 p.m. Govindammal is employed in the Butt Road branch of a nationalised bank.

Police received the call around an hour later. Shankar Nagar and special police teams reached the spot and began investigations.

Victim's neighbour

Preliminary investigations revealed that the victim had locked the grille gate from inside and the police suspected the crime to have been committed by persons known to her. Investigations led the policemen on the trail of B. Manikandan (24), the victim's neighbour.

A little past midnight, policemen arrested Manikandan and his accomplices S.Samuel and G.Sundar, both 23 years old and belonging to Pammal. Manikandan, formerly employed as a car driver in a star hotel in the city, was out of job for the past one year. Interrogations revealed that desperate to earn some quick money, Manikandan plotted the murder, which he eventually carried out with the two others, Mr. Jangid said.

On Friday, Manikandan managed to enter Rajammal's house, as he was known to her, with his accomplices. Once inside, they strangled the woman and smashed her face with a grinder stone. They then took away jewellery and cash, totally worth Rs.1.5 lakh.

Though the incident took place around 1 p.m., it did not come to light until the victim's daughter returned home in the evening.

Jewellery pledged

The accused then pledged the jewellery with a financier in Pallavaram for Rs.90,000 and bought mobile phones, among other goods. Mr. Jangid had a word of praise for personnel of Shankar Nagar and the special police team.

Appeal

Mr. Jangid appealed to women staying alone not to allow strangers inside the house. Even if the visitor was a known person, they should exercise reasonable amount of suspicion and caution.

He said that the police had also appealed to pawn brokers and private financiers to create a system in which images of people pledging jewellery could be recorded. While big establishments had CCTV cameras, smaller financiers did not have any such equipment. Further, the police had spoken to associations of pawn brokers and owners of small jewellery shops not to accept jewellery if they suspected they were stolen property and being pledged by suspected criminals.

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