KERALA

Murinjapalam attack: four held

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Oct. 26. The Medical College police have arrested four persons in connection with the armed attack at Murinjapalam Junction on October 20 in which five persons, including a police constable, were injured and few shops damaged.

The accused are Shiju, Binu and Pradeep, all members of a Barton Hill Colony-based gang headed by `Goondukadu' Shabu, and Venu, a mechanic attached to the KSRTC depot at Pappanamcode.

The police said efforts were on to arrest Shabu and five more members of the gang in connection with the attack. All have been charged with attempt to murder, conspiracy, rioting and unlawful assembly under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A police team led by the Circle Inspector (Medical College), Sharaffudin, raided the house of Shabu at Barton Hill. He said several swords, daggers, machetes and iron pipes were seized from the house. The house, which was found to be locked, has been put under police guard.

The CI said that Shabu headed a 20-member gang, which profited from a lucrative extortion and `carrying out `hits' for money' racket. The police are also trying to gather information about people who regularly hire the services of the gang.

Several persons in the city, including businessmen, abkari contractors, vehicle loan repossession agents, drug peddlers, spirit smugglers, students and politicians are learnt to have links with the gang, a senior official said.

The CI said the gang members led a posh life and owned several motorbikes and a Toyota Qualis van. The house of Shabu was found to be air-conditioned with state-of-the-art electronic consumer items, including a costly home theatre system.

The accused had several mobile phone connections in their names and those of others, he said. The CI said the seizures have thrown light on the revenue earned by the gang through illegal means.

The police said that an altercation between one Nishad (23), a DYFI worker at Murinjapalam, and Joe Mon (18), son of KSRTC mechanic, Venu, had resulted in the armed attack. An official said Venu, being a Government servant, regularly stood as surety for the gang members to get bail from the court. When his son was attacked by Nishad, Venu sought the services of the gang to retaliate, the police said.

Mr. Sharaffudin said that on the day of the attack, two youth, identified as Shiju and Tajin, armed with machetes arrived at the junction on a motorbike seeking Nishad and another DYFI worker identified as Kannan. They were roughed up by local DYFI workers. Shiju who escaped from the junction called for help from the rest of gang over mobile phone.

The CI said that a seven-member gang, on two motorbikes and an autorickshaw, arrived at the junction armed with swords. They attacked everyone in sight before retreating.

A police team stationed at Gowreesapattom tried to apprehend the gang members who were fleeing on motorbikes towards Barton Hill after the attack at Murinjapalam. The constable, Anil Kumar of the Armed Reserve Police, was injured when the gang members pelted stones at the police party.

Mr. Sharaffudin said that Shabu was coordinating the attack from his Toyota Qualis van, which was parked a little away from the junction. The injured gang members were taken to a hospital outside the district in Shabu's van, he said.

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