KASARGOD: Sinil, who goes by just the first name, is the ninth accused in the Kathiroor Manoj murder case. He spent nine months in prison as an undertrial after the CBI arrested him in November 2014 in connection with the killing of the 42-year RSS leader of Kannur district.
"Today, he runs 'Kerala's No. 1 robbery gang'," said top police officers investigating the Rs 1.65-crore highway heist of a Maharashtra-based jewellery merchant in Kasaragod.
The CPM reportedly washed its hands off Sinil after he was named accused in the Manoj murder case, in which the party's top leader, P Jayarajan, is charged with conspiracy. "After the party found him to be a liability, Sinil put his villainous image to good use by becoming a highway robber," said a police officer.
Kasaragod police have issued a lookout notice for him. He is the main accused in the highway heist reported on September 22, 2021.
Sujith, another accused in the robbery case, is also an accused in a political murder case. "Sinil, Sujith and Edwin Thomas put together a team of 11 persons based on their competence to rob the Maharashtra-based merchant. Almost all team members got acquainted with one another in prisons," said the officer.
On Sunday, Kasaragod Town police arrested Edwin Thomas (38) of Vadassery near Chalakudy in Thrissur district and Antony Louis (21) of Angamaly in Ernakulam district in connection with the robbery.
With these two arrests, seven of the 11 identified accused in the case have been arrested. There are three more persons who worked as informers for Sinil. "We will know their identities only after Sinil is arrested," said the officer.
Thomas and Louis were detained on their return from Chennai on Saturday night. "They were sleeping in their car. We took the help of Thrissur West police to arrest them," said the officer. On Friday, the police arrested Zaheer Rahman (34) of Koippady near Kumbla in Kasaragod district and VV Mubarak (27) of Puthiya Theru in Kannur. They were detained in Bengaluru.
Rahman is an accused in the of one Salam's murder in Kasaragod. "Mubarak was involved in robbing another gang and they retaliated by breaking his legs. He has steel rods in both legs. Yet, he did not complain to the police because he had no plan to give up his criminal life," said another officer.
The first arrests in the case were made on October 6 when the police picked up Akhil Tommy, 24, of Panamaram in Wayanad, Binoy C Baby (25) of Kuttanellur in Thrissur and Anu Shaju (28) of Pulpally in Wayanad. They were arrested from near Edwin’s house in Thrissur while they were on their way to strike another businessman in Palakkad.
Anu Shaju is a relative of Sujith. Akhil Tommy met Sujith and Sinil in prison when he was detained in a drug case. When Akhil came to Thrissur for his studies, he was Binoy Baby's paying guest. The police said Sinil's gang was always busy.
They had robbed a businessman of Rs 84 lakh at Nilambur in Malappuram district last month, and sometime before September 2021, his men robbed Rs 95 lakh from another businessman at Ollur in Thrissur.
"Sinil has informers who alert him about the movement of hawala money. It is an easy pick for him because the businessmen will hesitate to report the robbery of unaccounted-for money," said the officer.
On September 22 last year, Sinil's gang waylaid Maharashtra-based jewellery merchant Kailash's driver, Rahul Mahadev Javir, at Mogral, 8 km from Kasaragod town, and took away his Innova car. They abandoned him and his car at Payyannur.
Initially, Javir reported that only Rs 65 lakh was robbed. But Kailash came to Kasaragod and reported that Rs 1.65 crore was robbed. "But Edwin has told us that there was around Rs 3.5 crore. Big money is being transported through the road now," said an officer, who is part of the investigating team.
The police have recovered Rs 30 lakh, 72 gm of gold, and impounded six vehicles till now in the latest case. The gang manages to stay off the radar by not using SIMs on their phones. "They connect to WiFi to make WhatsApp calls. It takes time to get details from WhatsApp," said an officer.
Sinil, Sujith and Edwin Thomas spent the New Year partying in Goa. By the time the police reached Goa, they moved to Bengaluru. "We hopped from one bar to another looking for them. That’s how we got Rahman and Mubarak," he said.
Edwin and Louis went to Thrissur after falling out with Sujith and Sinil. "Differences cropped up among them after they blew up the money," said the officer.