THOOTHUKUDI: In the last two weeks, a total of seven murders were reported from the district. This includes two incidents of double murder, one each on May 8 and 17. Police reports point towards a spike in instances of public nuisance, group clash, and crimes against children, during the same period. Coinciding with the wave of crime reported was the reopening of liquor outlets in the district.
An activist, on a condition of anonymity, claimed that a majority of the crimes were reported on the days when the liquor outlets were opened in May.
For two days, on May 7 and 8, the State government had reopened TASMAC liquor outlets across the State, but the Madras High Court ordered the closure of the outlets on May 8. Following an order from the Supreme Court, the State government reopened, again, the outlets on May 16.
In the first three spells of lockdown, the crime rate was comparatively low, especially, theft and robbery cases plunged drastically. During the period, on March 26, a murder was reported from Kovilpatti, when a debt-ridden man allegedly pushed his two daughters down an abandoned well. The district reported two double murders, one each on May 8 and 17: a father-and-son duo was murder in Nazerath (May 8), and the murders of a man and his son in Pasuvanthanai (May 17).
An official source said that child abuse cases were down to three in April, as against the average of seven per month in the district. In May, so far, the district reported five cases of child sexual abuse. In one case, a 17-year-old girl attempted self-immolation.
Besides violent crimes, the influence of alcohol, reports say, had played a key role in the increase in domestic violence and group clashes. A video of a youth troubling the public and damaging vehicles, reportedly in an inebriated condition, went viral on social media.
'Alcohol not always responsible'
The murders committed had several motives, including previous enmity, said a senior police officer, on a condition of anonymity. Only the Pasuvanthanai double murder happened during a drunken brawl, he said, but admitted to the correlation of the surge in criminal activities and the reopening of liquor outlets. Cases of domestic violence against women and group clashes had not witnessed a spike, he said, adding that thefts and robberies were under control, owing to strict vigilance. The police have been taking steps to control the crimes, and that influence of alcohol is not always responsible for murders, he added.