Wednesday seemed like any other day at North Malayambakkam village. Nothing here betrayed what happened the previous night — a real life enactment of a kitschy scene from a Kollywood gangster movie.
Women were going about their daily chores. Some men were gossiping beneath a tree at the entrance to the hamlet — the scene was far removed from the birthday party, the chase by the police, and the nabbing of some 75 history-sheeters from a single venue.
North Malayambakkam is located on the Outer Ring Road near Mangadu. The land around the village has a pond filled with weed and many shrubs. Nearly one kilometer from the village, on the service road off the highway, is the lorry shed owned by Velmurugan.
It was here that the birthday party of Binu, a notorious history-sheeter, was held. “We did not know who they were. I came to know about the incident only when the police came home to conduct inquiries last night. My husband has gone out of station in connection with a court case,” said Pushparani, wife of Velmurugan, the shed owner.
Ram from Chhattisgarh, who is tasked with staying the night in the lorry shed, recounted: “Around 9 p.m., cars and bikes zoomed into the premises. There is no door for the shed, so it was easy for them to enter. Some of the men kept asking for the owner. Some others started the party and the revelry began,” he explained.
After police teams crashed the party, the rowdies ran helter skelter and some entered the village. However, before the operations had begun, the Mangadu police station inspector Krishna Kumar had called up a few villagers and asked them to cordon off the village, believing that this would seal off some of their escape routes.
Like most of the residents of the village, S. Selvi was busy watching television. “All of a sudden I heard the sound of boots stamping and people shouting. My husband Jaganathan and son Sathyanathan rushed out to join in the search. Two rowdies were hiding inside a house under construction and were nabbed,” she said.
C. Ponvel, a youngster, was at home when he heard the sounds. “The shed is behind my house and I saw people running into our village. They looked like college students. I saw other residents chasing them in nearly every street in the village,” he said.
Similarly, P. Palani, another resident, said that two rowdies managed to hide in the toilet located just outside the house. “This is the first time something like this has happened. The lorry shed has been there for many years, but no one knows what happens there. We do not pay any attention to it,” he explained.
Posing as professionals
Police said that many of the rowdies arrested were carrying fake press identity cards, and their vehicles had press and advocate stickers. “We are checking their background and collecting more details. All the police stations in the city are involved in the effort,” said a police officer.