S. Manikandan (43), one of the four persons wanted by the police in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in more than 150 vehicle theft cases, was shot in the leg and nabbed by the Salem city police around midnight on Tuesday.

Manikandan belongs to Poolankudi, Sengottai taluk in Tirunelveli district.

Police Commissioner A. Amalraj said police shot Manikandan in the leg as he opened fired at them near the Salem Divisional Railway Manager’s office. “Search is on for two persons who escaped from the spot.”

Special teams formed to probe the theft of seven four-wheelers in the city this year were checking vehicles on the road from the railway junction to Reddypatti when a car with Maharashtra registration was stopped.

“The police were recovering knives, sickles and wooden logs from it when a second car with Karnataka registration stopped a few metres ahead. Its occupants saw the police and tried to change the direction and flee. The police rushed towards them and two occupants escaped,” Mr. Amalraj said.

Opens fire at police

Manikandan, who was in the back seat, opened fire at the police and tried to escape. In retaliation, Inspector M. Saravanan shot him in his left leg.

The injured was being treated in the Salem government hospital, the Commissioner said.

The two vehicles and the weapons and mobile phones were seized.

An inquiry revealed that one vehicle was taken at gun-point in Karnataka and the other stolen from a house near Pallapatti in Salem four days ago. The second one’s registration number was changed. Their gang was also involved in the theft of nine four-wheelers in the Alagapuram, Pallapatti and Sooramangalam police limits in the city from 2012, police said.

“They stole heavy trailers and four-wheelers, changed the registration numbers before selling them. There are 95 cases against Manikandan in Maharashtra and he had evaded arrest for months”, Mr. Amalraj said adding that efforts were on to recover the other stolen vehicles.

The arrested persons were booked under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 307 (attempt to murder), 224 (restriction or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) of the Indian Penal Code and under relevant sections of The Arms Act of 1959.