KERALA

Attack on former SP: three remanded

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: Three persons, including a suspected gang leader, who were arrested by the city police in connection with the attack on a former police official were on Saturday produced before the court and remanded to 14 days in judicial custody.

Assistant Commissioner F. Somanatha Pillai identified the accused as `Puthenpalam' Rajesh, 30, alleged gang leader, and his associates, Prasad, 26, and Rajan, 24. The arrest of Rajesh had stirred up a controversy on Friday with the police releasing him minutes after he was taken into custody, allegedly under pressure from certain ruling front politicians.

Inquiry

Rajesh was re-arrested within an hour of his release on the direction of City Police Commissioner K. Padmakumar. The department was inquiring into the conduct of Sub-Inspector (Cantonment) Prasad in connection with Rajesh's hasty release. The suspect is accused in 16 cases, including two murders, in the district. The police have accused him of heading a criminal gang, which thrives on extortion, spirit smuggling and muscle-for-money operations.

Assault

Rajesh was arrested after some persons travelling in a red Mahindra Scorpio van in his possession waylaid and assaulted Bennet Motha, former Superintendent of Police (SP). Though various crime squads of the city police had reported much earlier that Rajesh owned such a vehicle, the Pettah police took little action. Mr. Motha approached a top police official who brought the matter to the attention of the Commissioner. The police found that persons travelling in a similar vehicle were responsible for the attack on the driver of a public transport bus in front of University College last week. Rajesh was arrested on the specific direction of Mr. Padmakumar but was "mysteriously" allowed to go by the Cantonment police officials.