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Is Law and order situation turning worse in TN?

- May 29, 2022

Arun Lakshman/ Chennai

The leader of opposition in Tamil Nadu assembly and former Chief Minister of the state Edappadi K. Palaniswamy thundered, “Chennai is turning into a murder city with 18 murders in 20 days”. This was immediately after the killing of the district leader of the BJP, K. Balachander at Chintradipet.

Greater Chennai City police commissioner, Shankar Jiwal however countered this and said that only 10 murders took place and that of these 4 were due to personal enmity and 6 were due to family disputes.

While the top police officer has all the rights to defend his force, the killing of a small-time financier, Arumugham (36), on the busy Aminjikarai road in Chennai in broad daylight was a shock for the police. 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 killings on the rise in many parts of the state, the police force and the state administration seems to be on the receiving end.

On May 26th, the day when the Prime Minister was landing in the state, a 55-year-old temple priest was hacked to death at Madurai by a three-member gang while he was reaching the temple. This was another major blow for the Tamil Nadu police and DGP directly intervened in the matter. Police acted and arrested the culprits who were close relatives of the deceased priest, Lakshmanan.

Tamil Nadu police hung its head in shame when two alleged custodial deaths took place on April 19th and April 26th in two unrelated incidents at Chennai and Myladuthurai. While a Scheduled Caste youth Vignesh who was picked up by the Secretariat Colony police in Chennai along with an accomplice Suresh on April 18th died on April 19th 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.

On April 26th, Thangamani( 46) died in Myladuthurai sub-jail after he was picked by the police on April 25th 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 brutal torture inflicted in the station.

In Chengalpattu district, adjoining Chennai, two youths were hacked to death by a three-member gang in January 2022  that rocked the district. Chengalpattu district is home to several major industries in Tamil Nadu including international automobile manufacturers and software companies and the brutal killings have led to the loss of confidence the investors.

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 murders happening frequently, the Director-General of State police,C. Sylendrababu told reporters in Avadi on May 24th that the law and order situation was well maintained in the state. 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, the DGP admitted that illicit liquor was brewed in certain parts of the state but the police have arrested several people under the Goondas Act 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 ten 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 directly intervene to quench the violence.

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 state 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 its not handled now.”