Local people form action council to prevent recurrence of such incidents
Several incidents of extortion of money from travellers and merchants on the Mankavu-Meenchanda stretch of the mini-bypass road have been reported of late. Lack of police surveillance and patrolling on the route has worsened the situation.
Recently, two merchants were forced to down the shutters of their outlet for hours following a quarrel with a group of unidentified persons who refused to pay money for the products they had purchased.
Though hoteliers and grocery stores are the main targets of the miscreants, long-distance travellers on the route have been at the receiving end of late. The gang extorts money from travellers in the name of some organisation and gives them fake receipts.
“Until recently, the gangs had been carrying out their illegal operations on the premises of the Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences. Now, the people of Mankavu too have fallen prey,” says N.C. Jaleel, a merchant organisation leader and the president of a local action council that has been constituted to prevent such incidents in future.
The local people said there were two incidents recently in Mankavu where the gang members, claiming to be members of a radical organisation, had forcibly demanded contribution from some of the natives who were constructing houses.
The gang threatened them they would bring work to a halt if the payment was not made instantly.
“The attempt to collect funds was first reported by a resident at Kacherikkunnu, near Mankavu. They demanded nearly Rs. 10,000 from a house owner,” said a Corporation councillor from the region.
He said upon enquiry, it was found that several such incidents had taken place in the surrounding areas, which the people had not disclosed to anyone out of fear, he said.
The merchants fraternity with the support of residents’ associations and people’s representatives have now decided to fight the menace collectively.
On Tuesday, the newly formed people’s action council will hold a public meeting at Mankavu to mobilise public support.
N.C. Jaleel, leader of the action council, said they had already submitted a written complaint to the City Police Commissioner and the Kasaba Circle Inspector for immediate action.
“The Commissioner and the Circle Inspector have taken up the issue seriously and we are expecting effective measures to end the menace,” he added.