Two rival gangs, knives and sickles, bloodbath. They’ve been around in movies and sporadically, in some areas of the city.

But over the last few years, gang wars in different parts of north Chennai have escalated, with brutal killings committed in full public view. Vyasarpadi, MKB Nagar, Pulianthope and adjoining areas especially, have become hotbeds of gang rivalry and their subsequent fall-outs.

North Chennai has always been notorious for history-sheeters, but from mid-2007 onwards, things had been relatively quiet. Ever since the encounter killing of gangster Vellai Ravi of Vyasarpadi, gang rivalries have been on a low simmer, with relatively few flare-ups. Swift police action following the encounter also kept gangsters at bay. But from mid-2010 onwards, the situation began to deteriorate again, with several small gangs surfacing.

Early on Saturday, Kamesh of Sathyamoorthy Nagar, was hacked to death by a gang. Kamesh had been released from prison just last month, after being arrested for the killing of a rival.

A rivalry had been brewing for some time between two big groups, that of Kamesh and Babulu and that of ‘Bokkai’ Ravi Kumar and Ranjith as well as between several small gangs based in Vyasarpadi. In 2010, Kamesh and his men hacked to death Kalaiarasan, an aide of Ravi’s. According to a police officer attached to the Vyasarpadi station, gang wars occur primarily to determine supremacy in the locality. “These gangs do not deal in drugs but are small- time robbers involved in lots of thefts recorded in other parts of the city. They all live in the locality and so, group clashed often occur with killings as the result,” the officer added.

Some gang members also extort money from local shopkeepers and traders, threatening them with dire consequences.

“The gangs generally fight only between themselves and do not attack residents. But the fear of what is going to happen next is always at the back of the mind of every resident,” said a resident.

Over the past few years, gang fights have escalated, with brutal killings due to personal enmity

More In: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL