Andre Viozat, 66, a French industrialist who settled in Auroville nearly four decades ago, was hacked to death in his 13-acre farmhouse on May 27, 2009. The murder sent shockwaves across the international township. Andre was found with his hands and legs tied and chilli powder sprinkled in his eyes. His body bore wounds on the neck and head.
Mani alias Dhada Manikandan, a notorious criminal was named as the prime accused. He had been engaged by the deceased’s former wife.
Manikandan, facing murder, kidnapping and land-grab charges, was shot dead in an apartment in Anna Nagar West Extension on Tuesday evening by a team of police personnel from Villupuram district.
For 15 years, Manikandan’s team ran an extortion and land-grab racket in Villupuram, Puducherry, Tiruvannamalai and surrounding areas.
He started out by assisting his father in agriculture in his native village Kuyilapalayam, adjacent to Auroville. During the real estate boom, he and a relative Rajkumar associated with another rowdy, Boopalan, and indulged in extortion, among other activities. Soon, Rajkumar and Manikandan parted ways and became rivals. According to the police, the rivalry between the duo led to over 21 persons getting killed in Villupuram district.
As per records, Manikandan had been indulging in crime as early as 1998. Most of the cases filed against him were in police stations in Villupuram and Puducherry. Recently, Auroville police arrested Rajkumar. “We had information that he was planning to flee the country. Our team wanted to arrest him and produce him before the court but he attacked us. It was completely unavoidable. A Sub- Inspector opened fire and shot two rounds,” said S.Jayakumar, Villupuram SP.
Manikandan had been staying with his wife in the apartment for over three weeks after renting the house for ₹20,000.
On Wednesday, a judicial magistrate held an inquiry into the cause of death. The body was handed over to Manikandan’s sisters.