TIRUCHY: When Amarnathan (60), a resident of Ramji Nagar here presented himself as a victim of kidnapping before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Wednesday and sought probe, he put the spotlight on the raging gang war in Tiruchy’s own ‘burglary village’. Well placed sources in Ramji Nagar told Express that gang wars between established burglars there led to the kidnap of Amarnathan.
According to a rival gang, Amarnathan too was once a burglar, which is said to be the traditional occupation of the residents of Ramji Nagar. He later dropped it as his children started working abroad as engineers, and possibly became a police informer. The ongoing tussle for supremacy and competition to outdo their rivals is now helping the police get a foothold there, as the rivals leak information about the burglary committed by the opposite gang to the police of respective states.
As per police estimates, at least two members in each family at Ramji Nagar are burglars and are leading a luxurious life. They are masters in attention diversion and mostly choose to commit crimes in other states.
‘Kepmari’, a BC community who are the actual descendants of the Andhra migrants who had settled in Thogamalai in Karur, are the current residents at Ramji Nagar. The Andhra migrants who were notorious thieves, were ex-communicated from Thogamalai and later, as part of rehabilitation of habitual offenders, the district administration in 1936 had constructed a settlement for them at Ramji Moolji, which later became the current Ramji Nagar.
Cut to 2009. That year, the then District Collector, T Soundiah, with the help of the then Superintendent of Police A Kaliyamurthy attempted to rehabilitate them. The administration provided them with bank loans and urged them to take up other means of livelihood.
However, all these efforts were in vain. When a group moved away from the profession and struggled to make both ends meet, the burglars in the village continued to live a luxurious life, prompting others to get back to burglary.
Now there are around 1,000 families living in Ramji Nagar, who have committed crimes across India. They have also established a system by which money is divided without any scope for complaints between the gang members.
The gang leader, addressed as captain, plans and execute each theft and bears all the expenses for carrying out the crime. After a successful burglary, the captain gets 20 per cent of the booty - as captain’s fee and reimbursement of the expenses met by him. They give 10 per cent as incentive for the person who actually commits the crime and the remaining 70 per cent is divided between all the gang members, including the captain.
However, the fool-proof system did not last long as groups under each captains in the village started nurturing enemity among them. One group did not want the other group to do better than them and they turned police informers to spoil the rivals’ plans. This gang war lead to the kidnap of Amarnathan, who after quitting burglary about ten years ago had become a police informer.