Citing the recent killings in Chennai, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition K. Palaniswami, has said that the state capital is “turning into a murder city with 18 murders in 20 days”. However, Greater Chennai City police commissioner, Shankar Jiwal refuted the claim, saying that only 10 murders took place in the city, and of them, four were due to personal enmity and six because of family disputes.
Palaniswami made the remark immediately after the killing of BJP’s district leader, K. Balachander in Chennai’s Chintadripet area.
While the top police officer has all the right to defend his force, the killing of a small-time financier, Arumugham (36), on the busy Aminjikarai road in broad daylight was a shock. Four men chased the financier and hacked him to death.
The DMK government has assumed office in May 2021 with the promise that the police will be strict and would deal with the miscreants with an iron fist. However, with number of killings on rise in many parts of Tamil Nadu, the police force and the state administration seems to be on the receiving end.
On May 26, the day when the Prime Minister was arriving in the state, Lakshmanan, a 55-year-old priest, was hacked to death in Madurai by a three-member gang while he was on way to temple. This was another major blow for the Tamil Nadu Police, forcing the Director-General of Police (DGP) to intervene in the matter. Police acted swiftly and arrested the culprits who were close relatives of the deceased priest.
Meanwhile, in another embarrassment for the state police, two alleged custodial deaths took place on April 19 and 26 in two seperate incidents in Chennai and Myladuthurai. In Chennai, a Scheduled Caste youth Vignesh who was picked up by the police along with an accomplice Suresh on April 18 died on 19 in the police station. Autopsy revealed that Vignesh had 13 injuries including a broken right leg and bruises on the face, hands, shoulders, and chest. Sub-Inspector of Police and constables were arrested in the case.
Similarly, on April 26, Thangamani(46) died in Myladuthurai sub-jail. He was picked by the police on April 25 charging that he was brewing illicit liquor. The relatives of the deceased alleged that Thangamani was brutally tortured in the station and he died in sub-jail on next day morning due to the torture inflicted in the station.
In Chengalpattu district, adjoining Chennai, two youths were hacked to death by a three-member gang in January. Chengalpattu district is home to several major industries in Tamil Nadu including international automobile manufacturers and software companies, and the brutal killings could possibly lead to the loss of investors’ confidence.
R. Swaminathan, head of industrial relations in a big multinational company in Chengalpattu while speaking to IANS said: “Any investor will be comfortable when the law and order situation is good but after the murder of two youths and another killing have led to sort of uneasiness in our management. The government is trying its best it seems, but we need assurance that the police will deal with an iron hand.”
Even as killings have turned routine and people are worried over the frequent murders, DGP C. Sylendrababu told reporters on May 24 that the law and order situation was well maintained in the state.
The DGP said: “No instances of caste or communal clashes in Tamil Nadu or firing or deaths due to spurious liquor, occurred in the state. So it is very peaceful.”
However, he admitted that illicit liquor was brewed in certain parts of the state but the police have arrested several people who were indulging in illicit brewing of liquor.
While the DGP is claiming that there are no caste-related killings in the state, four beheadings in 10 days during September 2021 had sent a chill through the spines of people of south Tamil Nadu. All the murders were caste-related and the DGP had to camp in Madurai and intervene to quench the violence erupted following the incidents.
C. Rajeev, Director, Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai, while speaking to IANS, said: “Back to back killings and custodial deaths have dented the image of Tamil Nadu police and the Chief Minister who is in charge of the home department must ensure that law and order are maintained properly for a safe and peaceful Tamil Nadu. No one must be allowed to take the law into his hands, and beyond a point, situation would turn grave and out of control if it is not handled now.”