KERALA

Five arrested on charges of murdering BJYM leader

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Oct. 26. The city police have so far arrested five persons in connection with the murder of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) district committee member, R. Santhosh Kumar alias Chanthu, who was hacked to death by an armed gang near the Chakka KSEB office on September 23 night.

The police identified the accused as Shyam alias `Konkanam' Shyam (30) of Aryanadu, Shaji alias `Kannadi' Shaji (30) of Peroorkada, V.P Kannan (30) of Palkulangara, Arun (27) of Vattiyoorkavu and Binu (30) of Amboori.

The police said the accused, who were arrested over the past one week are presently under judicial remand at the Attakulangara Sub-Jail here. An official said more persons would be arrested in connection with the murder.

Meanwhile, the main accused in the murder case, `Motta' Prasad alias Siva Prasad (30), surrendered before the court on Saturday. The police will move an application seeking his custody on Monday.

According to the police, Santhosh Kumar was hacked to death by a five-member armed gang which arrived at the spot in a `red coloured jeep with a black top' at around 9.15 p.m. on September 23 night.

The City Police Commissioner's crime squad based at the Vanchiyoor police station traced the jeep to its owner at Amboori. The owner told the police that the vehicle had been in the custody of Binu on the day Santhosh Kumar was murdered.

The Sub-Inspector (Pettah), Raj Kumar, said that Binu's arrest led the police to the rest of the accused. He said revenge was the motive for the murder. The victim, Santhosh Kumar and the prime accused, Siva Prasad, who were initially neighbours and friends, became sworn enemies later.

Both went on to head rival groups of youth in Chacka area. He said that the murder of Santhosh Kumar was the last in a series of tit-for-tat attacks carried out by the opposing groups in Chacka.

The latest spree of inter-gang violence, which resulted in two murders in Chacka this year, was triggered off when a group allegedly headed by Siva Prasad made an attempt on the life of Santhosh Kumar's nephew, Ratheesh Babu, who was attacked with swords and country bombs in front of the Chacka KSEB office on February 7.

A case of attempt to murder and violation of the Explosives Substances Act was registered in this connection against Siva Prasad.

In what was described by the police as an act of retaliation for the attack on Ratheesh Babu, an armed gang stormed the rented house of Siva Prasad at Chacka on May 12 night and hacked to death a a DYFI worker, Ratheesh (22) who chanced to be sleeping there. An official said the gang had killed Rathesh mistaking him to be Siva Prasad.

The Sub-Inspector (Vanchiyoor), Radhakrishnan, said that Siva Prasad had hired the services of the rest of the accused to do away with Santhosh Kumar believing that the Yuva Morcha leader posed a threat to his life.

He said the conspiracy to murder Santhosh Kumar was finalised at the office of a vehicle re-possession agency based at Thoppil Lane at Vanchiyoor. He said `Motta' Prasad was on the payroll of the owners of the agency.

According to Mr. Radhakrishnan, Siva Prasad and Shyam were waiting at the agency's office at Thoppil Lane for Binu to come with the jeep on September 23. The trio set out from the agency's office at around 7.30 p.m.

They picked up the rest of the gang members from Pongumoodu and Peroorkada before heading towards Chacka armed with swords and country bombs, he said.

The SI said the gang staked out near the All Saints College junction.

"They made several passes through Chacka area and decided to strike when they found Santhosh Kumar sitting alone in an autorickshaw parked near the KSEB office."

In the attack, Santhosh Kumar sustained 22 deep cut injuries on his face and head, which proved to be fatal.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the accused returned to the office of the re-possession agency at Vanchiyoor after the attack and cleaned the blood stained weapons there. Serology experts from the Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) are scheduled to examine the agency's office soon, he said. The police have conducted already conducted a search at the office and questioned its owners, he said.

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