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Friday, July 01, 2016

Crime: Has Chennai Become Murder Capital Of India?

By SRIVANI SHETTY | INNLIVE

A rash of murders has Chennai residents on the edge. 

Divided they fought the May 16 assembly election and united they suffered a humiliating defeat. Now the entire opposition parties in Tamil Nadu agree on one issue. There is a total breakdown in the law and order scene in Tamil Nadu. Murders and mayhem has become the order of the day. All reached a flashpoint last Friday when Chennai woke up to a bloody morning with the news of a gruesome murder of 24-year-old Swathi, a software engineer, who was waiting for a suburban train at the crowded Nungambakkam Railway Station. Six days after the murder which shocked the entire nation, the Tamil Nadu police is groping in the dark for any clues.

The opinion that law and order has taken a hit in the State is not an allegation by the opposition parties including the DMK against the AIADMK government led by J Jayalalithaa. One of Tamil Nadu’s most respected crime scribe told PGurus on Wednesday morning that the situation in Tamil Nadu has become worse than what it was earlier. “There is a total callousness and apathy among the State’s police force.

The number of murders, robberies and chain snatching has seen a sharp increase. Though the State figures in the top 10 States with maximum number of crimes as per the data furnished by the National Crime Records Bureau, the data is irrelevant as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned,” said the scribe who is held in high regard even by all political parties and police officers.

The gruesome murder of Swathi was followed by the suicide of Salem girl Vishnupriya (21), a young graduate on Monday. She resorted to the extreme measure following the posting of a morphed nude image of her in her social media page by a young man. Though her father had complained to the Salem Police when a morphed image of her was posted on June 23, the police remained indifferent and a constable in the station demanded a smartphone as bribe from her father. The culprit was “enthused” by the apathy of the police to the complaint filed by the victim’s father posted another morphed image of her on Sunday. Vishnupriya lost all hope in life and chose the only option available to her! M K Stalin, leader of Opposition has lambasted the State administration and described Chennai as the Murder Capital of the country. Now the onus is on Jayalalithaa to dispel the notion. The observations made by the Madras High Court on Monday and Tuesday do not augur well for the AIADMK government.
The week preceding Swathy’s murder saw four lawyers getting murdered in different places in Chennai itself. It may sound strange, but all the four who were murdered were lawyers by profession. But they practiced a different kind of law and had a unique judicial system known as Kangaroo Court.

No wonder, they paid with their lives for the kind of justice they dished out in the Kangaroo Courts. But what baffled the ordinary citizens is the indifference of the police towards these Kangaroo Courts and the impunity enjoyed by the “lawyers” who hold these courts.

Though it is not possible for the police to put an end to all kind of murders, as many of the murders happen as a fall out of lust, greed, jealousy and personal issues, the police in Tamil Nadu has failed to ensure the safety of the common man. The Chennai City Police became a laughing stock as a result of the comment made by City Police Commissioner that the city police does not have any kind of jurisdiction in railway stations. Add to such flippant remarks is the fact that there are number of unsolved murder cases which took place in the heart of the city.

The sensational triple murder in 2008 of S Saravanan, former chairman, Tamil Nadu Minerals Corporation, his wife Kasthuri and their maid servant Ambarasi (18) were found murdered in their apartment at the elite Ashok Nagar area of Chennai is a case which still lingers in the memory of Chennaites.

Though the police arrested four people, the Madras High Court acquitted all the four arrested by the police and rubbished the police version of the story in 2010. The case continues to remain as a mystery, a blot on the face of Chennai Police.
There are a number of such unresolved murder cases in Tamil Nadu in general and in Chennai in particular. Noted political and social commentator “Cho” Ramaswamy, generally considered close to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, had remarked early January that law and order situation in Tamil Nadu has become a matter of concern as anti-social elements seem to have an upper hand vis-à-vis the police.

Instances of those who perpetrate heinous crimes against women going scot-free are galore in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. How many of us remember Vinothini (23) of Puducherry, daughter of a daily wage earner, who rose to become a software engineer and who had to suffer the worst unimaginable attack from a criminal for spurning his love offer?

In November 2012, a criminal by name Suresh Kumar aka Appu threw acid at the face of Vinothini who was waiting to board a bus to Chennai. She fought with death for almost three months in a Chennai hospital before succumbing on February 12, 2013. The trial court sentenced Suresh Kumar to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs one lakh. He had the audacity to challenge the trial court verdict in the Madras High Court which declared on Tuesday that it was a rarest of the rare case and the accused deserved a maximum punishment of death sentence.
As the High Court was not in a position to hike the case to the rarest of the rare categories, all it could do was to uphold the verdict given by the trial court. Had the Puducherry Government or the trial court argued that it was a rarest of rare cases, the outcome would have been different. A death sentence in this case would have had a deterring effect on would-be perpetrators of such crimes.

Coming back to the veteran crime scribe, he is of the opinion that Chennai Police needs a thorough revamp and shake up. Most of the officers are cautious in taking decisions as it is the time of the year for transfer and promotions. “Unless they are elevated to higher posts and given postings in comfort zones, they would not take risks and jeopardise their career,” he said. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s claim that Tamil Nadu has become a garden of peace and happiness under her reign is ending up as an empty pre-poll slogan.
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