Post ‘Puttur Operation’, many landlords have grown wary of strangers; renting house in the town involves thorough grilling of to-be tenants

Residents of Puttur seem not to have forgotten the traumatic ‘Puttur Operation’ on October 5 last year that led to the arrest of Al-Umma extremists. They are now wary of strangers like never before and it has reached a point where renting house to someone, bachelor or a family person, involves thorough grilling about that person’s credentials.

After the incident where over one thousand armed personnel stormed Gate Puttur, the locality has become a household name. The 12-hour operation resulting in the arrest of two Al-Umma extremists – Bilal Malik and Panna Ismail of Tamil Nadu – has struck fear into the residents. Soon after the arrest, the accused were whisked away to Chennai. For the next three months, the localites spent sleepless nights as Chennai police and local cops frequented the place, as part of investigation, to question the residents. On four occasions, the accused were also brought to the locality for interrogation, giving tense moments to the residents. But much to their relief, the police adopted a friendly approach and cautioned them to be careful while renting house to strangers.

Puttur has scores of outsiders, particularly petty traders, who come here for a living. They are finding it hard to get a house on rent while those who already had one were forced to vacate after the incident. The newcomers in town not only have to produce ID cards and other details, but parade their family members before the owners. The situation has worsened as no outsiders, other than family members, should visit the renters and after 9 p.m., the gates would be closed. And those who speak languages other than Telugu are looked at suspiciously. On the flip side, this has been working to the advantage of the Police Department. The Puttur police told The Hindu that the residents were cooperating with them very well by providing information on the movement of strangers.