KOCHI: ‘Athani Boys’. The name itself sends shivers down the spines of Athani and Nedumbassery residents. This ferociously violent gang of 12 youths, who are wanted by the police in various cases including extortion, attempt to murder and drug trafficking, has unleashed a reign of terror on residents.
It is the gang that was formed by the now brutally murdered 34-year-old Binoy of Thuruthissery, known as Gillappi among the goonda circles. And as irony would have it, Gillappi was killed by the very same guys, whom he had groomed to spread his influence, in full public view on Sunday night.
According to Nedumbassery police, Binoy had founded ‘Athani Boys’ about 10 years ago. The gang started with petty crimes and its members were soon in the limelight for their daredevilry. Escorting the vehicles of river sand smugglers and providing assistance to real estate groups helped it establish itself in the area. Emboldened, they started spreading their activities literally and geographically. They started extorting money, trafficking drugs and assaulting rivals.
However, a dispute over sharing of a loot split the Athani Boys, with Binoy forming a new gang. There were frequent fights between these gangs that spread fear among the local residents. They even turned police informers, leaking information about the operations of the rivals. It is learnt that Binoy and members of Athani Boys had a tiff last Saturday too. Allegedly, Binoy’s gang members threatened a relative of Vinu Vikraman, a native of Nedumbassery, who is the key accused in Sunday’s brutal murder. This is suspected to be the immediate provocation for the cold-blooded murder.
Vinu, who now leads the ‘Athani Boys’, was forbidden by the police from entering the district under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act (KAAPA). Binoy, who had 18 cases pending against him at various police stations, including Nedumbassery, Chengamanad, Nadapuram, Kalady, Angamaly, Njarakkal and Vadakkekara, was also forbidden from entering the Ernakulam Rural police limits under KAAPA Act twice.
Initially the gang was involved in ‘quotations’ for providing security to real estate mafia for paddy field reclamation and escorting sand smuggling vehicles. Later, they entered into gold smuggling based at Nedumbassery airport. Their role was to “handle” those cheating the smuggling mafia by not returning the smuggled gold after landing in Kochi.
Focus back on gang wars
The murder of 34-year old Binoy at Athani has put the spotlight on the resurgence of gang wars in Ernakulam, which earlier had the tag ‘hub of quotation gangs’.
Gang wars that rocked Kochi
Anikkattu Aneesh Antony, alias Maradu Aneesh attacked his rival ‘Bhai’ Nazeer in 2007. Earlier partners-in-crime, they had become rivals and skirmishes of their gangs had terrorised the city.
A goonda attack at Kalady resulted in the death of 34-year old Sanal Devasykutty on September 26, 2016. A gang led by Ratheesh alias Kara Ratheesh, who had since been arrested, nursed a grudge towards Sanal for attacking the house of the former and killing his pet dog.
Gang leaders arrested during the Operation King Cobra, a special drive against goons, by Kochi City Police: Sudhi alias Perikod Sudhi, Aneesh alias Dosthi Aneesh, Shaji alias Thammanam Shaji, Ravi alias Vikkan Ravi, Nazeer alias Puli Nazeer, Sreenivasan T S alias Makudikuttan, Nizzar alias Kurang Nizzar, Vinod alias Cheli Vinod, Suneer alias Kulachel Suneer, Anilkumar alias Kannan Muthalaly