TIRUNELVELI: In a suspected decades-old gang rivalry, an accused in the 1993 Asupathi Pannaiyar murder case was done to death by a 13-member gang in daylight when he was escorted by the police to the court on Friday.
The gang hacked 48-year-old T Balasubramanian alias Singaram of Pullaveli in Thoothukudi district, a close associate of Pasupathi Pandian who was allegedly murdered by Subash Pannaiyar and his men at his residence in Dindigul in 2012, to death after distracting the escort police by spraying water mixed with chilli powder on them.
The late Pasupathi Pandian is the founder of Devendrakula Vellalar Kootamaippu, a federation for Devendrakula Vellalars, a sub-sect of Dalits, while Subash Panniyar is the president of All-India Nadar Padhukaappu Peravai and the cousin brother of Venkatesh Panniayar who was shot dead in an encounter by the police in 2003.
Subash’s father Asupathi Panniyar and grandfather Sivasubramanian were murdered subsequently way back in 1993 in which Singaram was an accused.Over 10 criminal cases including murder, attack on police and possession of explosive substances are pending against Singaram.
He was arrested on January 8 last year for indulging in a group clash in Thoothukudi.
However, he escaped from the police custody and was arrested again in the same case after about a month and was lodged at the Palayamkottai central prison. Thoothukudi police took Singaram from Palayamkottai prison to produce him in a court in Thoothukudi for the second consecutive day on Friday in connection with the case.
A team of five policemen including a driver led by Thoothukudi Armed Police sub-inspector Veerabagu escorted him in a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
When they reached KTC Nagar in Palyamkottai, two vehicles – a Sedan and a mini-truck – blocked the way back and forth, while another SUV occupied by henchmen intercepted the police vehicle.
Even before the policemen could realise what was happening, the gangsters sprayed chilli solution on their faces, knocked off the rifle carried by a policeman, dragged Singaram out of the vehicle and hacked him with a sickle and fled the spot, police claimed.
Singaram was taken to the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital where he succumbed at around 12.30 pm.
City Police Commissioner R Thirugnanam, Deputy Commissioner Pradeep Kumar, Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police (SP) Ashwin M Kotnis and his Tirunelveli counterpart V Vikraman inspected the scene of crime and held enquiries with the witnesses about the incident.
Though identity of the accused has not been ascertained yet, police suspect the running caste feud between Subash Pannaiyar and Pandian’s men to be the reason for the murder.