KASARGOD: Startling the residents of Uppala, two criminal gangs fired at each other and turned their rivalry into warfare.
Police officers said shots were sporadically fired for 20 minutes around 9 pm on Tuesday. Two cars belonging to the gangs were found abandoned with bullet holes on the windshields. Manjeshwaram police that towed the cars to their station said they have not registered any case “as they have received no complaints”. Kasargod deputy superintendent of police M V Sukumaran said the clash was between a gang led by ‘Kalia’ Rafeeq Majal, a murder defendant, now out on bail, and Ethappu Ali’s gang. Two years ago, Rafeeq and his gang allegedly had shot at and hacked to death Muthalib, 38, a member of Ali’s gang, in front of his wife and children in his house at Mannamkuzhi in Uppala. Since then, Rafeeq was a target of Ali’s gang, the officer said.
Two months ago, Rafeeq was released on bail, and Ali’s gang was tipped off about the presence of Rafeeq in Uppala. “Rafeeq and his associates were on their way to a relative’s house when unidentified gunmen in a SUV opened fire at them,” said an officer. According to the police, the occupants in the SUV were Ali and six other men. Soon, shots were fired in return from another vehicle, said the sources.
When police responded, the gang members left the vehicles and cleared out from the scene. Manjeshwaram police said they were yet to ascertain how many rounds were fired. Sukumaran said Rafeeq was once engaged in selling arrack, and then shifted his focus to illegal sand mining and extortion from traders in Uppala.