Staff Reporter

Woman booked on charge of plotting crime

Vineesh was killed on fourth day of his release from jail

He had said he would kill two of the accused

Thiruvananthapuram: The city police, on Friday, arrested six persons in connection with the gangland murder of Vineesh, alias Althara Vineesh, at Vellayambalam on Monday.

K.S. Gopakumar, Assistant Commissioner, Cantonment, identified the accused as Keppan Ani, Pookkada Rajan, Sreevaraham Chandrabose, Arappu Ratheesh, Oolan Binu and Sobha John (the prime accused in the case relating to the kidnapping and blackmail of a Sabarimala temple priest in Kochi in 2007). She has been booked on the charge of plotting Vineesh’s murder.

Investigators said violent rivalry between the gangs headed by Vineesh and Sobha started in March 2006 when Vineesh killed Thampan, brother of Sobha’s lieutenant Keppan Ani. They said Vineesh was arrested in 2008 in connection with the murder of Santosh, brother of Pookkada Rajan, at Maruthankuzhy.

Following his arrest, Sobha gave a declaration to the police on her own that she had witnessed Vineesh kill Santosh. Her statement further intensified the rivalry between the gangs, which were engaged in a fierce turf war in the city.

The gangs competed with each other to get contracts from people seeking to settle financial matters, business scores and personal rivalry through extra-judicial means.

They also fought over the monthly “protection money” from certain traders, toddy shop contractors and illicit liquor retailers. The gangs were also competitors in the business of confiscating cars (for banks) from owners who failed to remit their monthly mortgage payments.

The investigators said Sobha, an alleged loan shark, had invested over Rs.70 lakh in her money-lending business. She also acted as a financial front for corrupt government officials who secretly invested their ill-gotten wealth through her, the police said.

The investigators said the immediate motive for Vineesh’s murder was his pronouncements in the Central Jail, where he was being held as a remand prisoner in connection with Santosh’s murder, that he would kill Sobha and Ani within one week of his release.

Vineesh’s killers also knew that he had sought the help of an Aryanad-based gang leader for the operation. They said “fear and revenge” spurred the accused to kill Vineesh on the fourth day he was released from prison.

Rajan and Ani took part in the murder chiefly to avenge the murder of their brothers and to extend Sobha’s sway over the underworld in the city, the investigators said.

City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar, Deputy Police Commissioner M. Gopalakrishnan, Mr. Gopakumar, Circle Inspector Muhammad Iqbal, Head Constable A.R. Ajith, constables Satyan, Suresh and Mahesh investigated the case.