A 43-year-old Customs official, working at the Air Cargo Complex of Chennai Airport, was hacked to death by an armed group in his house in Adambakkam late on Sunday night.

His wife and two sons, seated in the car, were also targetted by the assailants, but had a narrow escape as the gang fled. Chennai Suburban Police said P. Samson, a Customs Examining Officer at the Air Cargo Complex, was a resident of Fifth Cross Street in the Officers’ Colony in Adambakkam. His wife, Daisy, was also with the Customs Department, working as a Preventive Officer at Chennai Port.

On Sunday morning, they left in their car along with their sons, Eric and Erwin, to Chengalpattu for the final rites of a relative. They returned home and went to Koyambedu to see off a relative travelling out of town. After dinner at Ashok Nagar, they reached home at 10.50 p.m.

Samson parked his car in the portico and returned to close the main gate of the house, when a man pounced on him and attacked him with a sickle. Shocked, Ms. Daisy and her two sons, remained in the car. Moments later, more men came to the spot and indiscriminately hacked Samson, killing him instantly.

The men also targetted Ms. Daisy and her sons, and attacked the car, breaking the glass of a window. However, the group fled from the spot. Meanwhile, Ms. Daisy called the police control from her mobile phone and a patrol vehicle of Adambakkam police station reached her house. However, they were unable to trace the assailants who had vanished by then.

The incident sent shockwaves in Officers’ Colony and the neighbouring area in Adambakkam. Samson’s body was taken to Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital in Chromepet for the post-mortem. A large number of relatives, friends and colleagues gathered at the hospital.

Adambakkam police said they had named 11 people, including Paulina, a woman living opposite Samson’s house, her sons Ilayaraja and Manikandan, as accused in the First Information Report. Nine of them – Ilayaraja and Manikandan, and their friends, Lakshmanan, Nagoor, Vinod, Gani, Prasanna Kumar, Gopinath and Rajesakar, surrendered at a court in Chengalpattu on Monday morning. They were searching for Pauline and another male accomplice.

Paulina, police said, built a small temple on a public road and Samson had donated towards its festivals. However, she had begun to shower abuses on Samson and his family members, picking up a quarrel with him at every given opportunity in the past two to three years.

His relatives at the Chromepet hospital told reporters that fearing for the life of his family members and property, Samson had installed a couple of cameras in his house. Visuals of the murder being carried out by the gang on Sunday night were obtained. Those who had gathered at the hospital were angry that though the police were aware of the existing animosity, they had failed to caution her against casuing harm to Samson or his family. One of them charged that policemen had even advised Samson to move out of the locality for his own safety and that of his family.

Jude, the victim’s brother-in-law, said Samson moved into the locality in 2005 and unable to put up with the harassment and intimation from Paulina any further, he had begun the construction of a new house on Hoppmen Street in Alandur, near his mother’s home. It was nearing completion and they were preparing to shift to the new house in April.

Police said Paulina, around 50 years old, was involved in several nefarious offences in the past, including drug peddling and the flesh trade. She had lodged a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission last year seeking action against Samson for allegedly abusing her by using her community name. However, the charges were established as being false, intensifying her anger against him, police added.