ASI killing: Kerala, TN police launch joint search for two ‘radicalised’ suspects

A surveillance camera video-grab of the two alleged shooters passing through Parassala circulated by the Kerala police.

A surveillance camera video-grab of the two alleged shooters passing through Parassala circulated by the Kerala police.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


The police are treating the shooting as a terrorist incident

The Kerala and Tamil Nadu police have launched a joint search for two “radicalised” youth suspected of fatally shooting a Tamil Nadu ASI, Wilson, 56, at the Kaliakkavila inter-State border check-post here late on Wednesday.

The police are treating the shooting as a terrorist incident.

The armed suspects are believed to be at large in Kerala. The State police have put their armed commandos, Kerala Thunderbolts, on standby for interdiction of the fugitives, if required.

The Q-branch of the T.N. police is currently on a stakeout in a coastal neighbourhood in Thiruvananthapuram, where they believe the accused had taken refuge.

A warren of narrow streets marks the densely populated locality. The Kerala police are backing the ongoing operation. They have announced a reward for those who provide information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects.

The Kerala police circulated the pictures of the youth in the media. They identified the main accused as Abdul Shameem of Thiruvithancodu in Thukalay police station limits.

He is a suspect in the “communal murder of a Hindu leader” in Chennai in 2014, according to the T.N. police.

The police identified the second “assailant” as Thoufiq of Ilangkadai in Nagercoil police station limits. Investigators said he had figured as an accused in a case relating to the attempted murder of a BJP leader in Kanniyakumari district in 2017.

The Kerala police said initial reports from their counterparts in T.N. suggested the youth were part of a 12-member gang of radicalised youth involved in covert martial and weapon training in a remote seaside locality in Kanniyakumari. They frequently visited Thiruvananthapuram and had relatives and associates in the town.

Earlier arrest

The Karamana police here had arrested Shameem on the charge of cruelty to animals in 2012. They enlarged him on conditional bail, and he was required to report at the station every week for several months.

Investigators said the youth appeared to resent intrusive monitoring of their activities and inspection of their homes by the Kanniyakumari police.

The police suspect that the youth wanted to send a warning to deter the T.N. police by targeting one of their officers. The suspects possibly found a “soft target of opportunity” in Assistant Sub Inspector Wilson, who was unarmed and alone at the check-post.

At around 9.30 p.m., two masked intruders entered the check-post room and gunned him down. A preliminary forensic examination concluded that the officer had sustained three fatal bullet wounds. The police recovered three empty shells and two live .32 pistol ammunition from the scene of the crime.

A top official said the ammunition appeared factory made. Video footage of the assailants fleeing the scene showed one of them carrying a handgun. He said investigators inferred from the image that the pistol could be a country-made firearm.

The police said the accused entered the neighbourhood mosque after the shooting and then disappeared. Security cameras sighted them an hour later at Parassala in Kerala.

The use of firearms for killing a police officer has sent ripples across the security agencies.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera said there was no cause for panic and the State police were in control of the situation.

Earlier, Mr Behera closeted himself with State Police Chief, T.N., Jalad K. Tripathy and ADGP, Law and Order, T.N., K. Jayanth Murali and ADGP, Law and Order, Kerala, Sheikh Darvesh Saheb to discuss the situation. Mr Murali later went to Kaliakavila to inspect the scene of the shooting.

The Kerala police are also probing whether the killing was a contract hit carried out at the behest of inter-State smugglers. The open Kerala-T.N. border, with its maze of by-roads and pathways, is a conduit for a range of contraband including ganja, illicit spirit, poultry, river sand, tools and construction-grade steel.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 4:49:32 AM |

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