KOCHI: Two employees of a local bar suffered bullet injuries after five unidentified persons clashed outside its premises at Kathrikadavu on the Thammanam-Pullepady road in Kochi late on Sunday night.
Police said they have taken three persons into custody and the investigation revealed that the bullet was fired by a person involved in criminal activities including murder attempt cases pending against him.
The injured persons are Sujin John, 23, of Thodupuzha and Akhil, 34, of Cherthala. They are the employees of Edassery Mansion, the bar where the shootout happened. Jithin George, 25, of Manimala, Kottayam, another employee of Edassery Mansion was first assaulted by the five-member group before opening fire at Sujin and Akhil. According to the bar employees, the incident took place at around 11.30 pm.
"They arrived in a white colour Ford Figo car parked outside the gate of the hotel. At that time, the gate of the bar was closed as its operational time was over. Outside the compound, the accused persons started to fight with each other. Jithin who was leaving the bar-hotel after completing his duty first noticed the violence outside. So, he went outside and intervened in the fight. However, the accused persons started attacking Jithin. He was slapped and kicked in the face," an employee of the hotel said.
Seeing Jithin being attacked, Akhil and Sujin came outside the hotel and attempted to rescue Jithin. "On this, a person who is aged around 40-45 took out a pistol and fired four rounds. One bullet hit the abdomen of Sujin and another hit the thigh of Akhil. After firing the pistol, the members of the gang got inside the car and fled the place," a hotel employee said.
The three employees of the bar, who were injured, were rushed to a private hospital in Kochi. Sujin and Akhil underwent surgery on Monday morning and their condition is stable now. Soon, the police team also reached the spot and probed the incident. Even though Jithin told the police that he had seen four persons, CCTV visuals revealed that there were five persons present at the place. Police have identified all the suspects and took three into custody.
"We have taken three suspects in custody. They are from Thodupuzha, Kalamassery and Aluva. We have identified the persons who fired bullets. He is still absconding. He was involved in multiple criminal activities including a murder attempt. He was also involved in assaulting a policeman. We have recovered the bullet cases from the hotel premises. The bullets were fired from a proper pistol," a police officer said.
Police suspect that the accused persons came to Kochi to undertake crimes on contract (quotation work in local parlance). "We are questioning the accused persons in custody to affirm the reason for their presence in Kochi. From preliminary assessment, the firing in front of the bar was not a planned operation. However, we are checking all aspects of the case. Forensic experts examined the area. Now the recovered bullet cases would be sent to the Ballistic department to ascertain the pistol used in the act. From the bullet cases recovered, it doesn't look like country-made ammunition," a police officer said.
The case was registered under IPC section 323 for voluntarily causing hurt, 324 for causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, 307 attempts to murder, and Arms Act section 7 for possessing and using prohibited arms and ammunition and section 27 for illegal use of arms.
Raju VK, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam Central said the investigation is in full swing. "We have identified the accused persons. Attempts are being made to nab them soon," he said. Police suspect that the accused persons were members of a gang run by a Perumbavoor native gangster who was even arrested in a terrorist case before.
The gang operated in Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha and Thodupuzha areas. The group had gang rivalry with criminal groups in Kochi. The presence of accused persons in Kochi is also probed by the police.