The city of Visakhapatnam, which is also called the ‘City of Destiny’ is regarded as a peace-loving coastal city, inhabited by docile and cultured people.
Every occasional murder becomes a sensation and if they are in quick succession, it become a cause of worry for the residents.
Pre-COVID, the city saw a spurt of murders and most of them were related to a rivalry between two gangs, which were identified as Telugu Anil Kumar’s gang and Chittimamu gang. There were quite a few brutal murders over a couple of years, but with the timely intervention and action by the city police, the gang violence was controlled and subdued.
But in the recent times, the city again appears to see a slight rise in murders and in the last two months, at least eight murder cases were recorded, including a serial killing, in which three persons, including two women, were killed by a serial killer in the Pendurthi area.
Though the murders were committed at different places, one common factor stands out in most of the eight cases, that they were committed on the spur of the moment and over petty or trivial issues. Another common factor that can be identified with these killings, is the use of knives. Most of the accused were either carrying knives or iron rods or both.
In July, a man was stabbed to death in the Peda Waltair area, as the deceased had asked the accused to return the ₹500 that he had earlier loaned to the accused.
In the last week of August, a youth killed a man in Allipuam area for teasing his mother. The youth chased the man in broad daylight, killed him by smashing his head with a stone and then dragged his body to the middle of the road and kicked it, in typical ‘filmy’ style. Two days later, another youth barged into the house of a man and stabbed him to death, as the deceased had protested his wife being teased by the youth.
There is no clear or serious motive in the cases. All were in the heat of the moment and over trivial issues, which is a worrying factor, said Commissioner of Police Ch. Srikanth.
While the murders were one aspect, the other grave issue that has surfaced in the recent time, is the ‘culture of knives’. Many youth are carrying knives, this is emboldening them to threaten or take a violent step.
In the last few days, there were at least two cases, when a couple of youth holding knives had threatened a shopkeeper in Pendurthi area for bargaining over a product and in another case two youths with knives had threatened a person at Maddilapalem over a minor accident.
Though the police have been active and all the accused have been nabbed in a short time, the worrying factor is why is it happening and is the cultural fabric of the city seeing a change.
Many factors can be held responsible such as stress, influence of movies, drugs, alcohol, heroism and restlessness. Well these are common factors and have been present since long, but the aspect that needs to be analysed is the issue of Encephalopathy post-COVID, said president of the Indian Psychiatric Society N.N. Raju.
While usage of drugs and alcohol do have an impact on the basic instincts of a person, but at the same time virus and some drugs also may have some impact and post COVID, the study is on. Moreover, it has been seen that post COVID there is a lot of restlessness among the youth due to joblessness and other reasons, he said.
Moreover, the instincts of a person are shaped by many things such as genetics, surrounding environment, education and culture. There is an erosion of values in at least a few of them, which is having an impact on the basic instincts, which could be leading to such violent culture and only a holistic approach by the authorities concerned can address this issue, he said.
Another aspect that is emboldening the criminals is the ‘godfather’ culture. Most of the criminals have some political backing, and this is emboldening them to commit crimes, as they are assured that the person backing them will bail them out, said a senior police officer.
Post COVID there is some kind of cognitive impact on the human mind. The two years of closed environment have made people a bit insecure, there is evidence of low frustration tolerance, issues of anger management and depression and anxiety are on the rise. Probably these are contributing to the rise in crime, says Deepa Mohan, Department of Applied Psychology, GITAM Deemed to be University, and clinical psychologist.