Kochi gangs at war, in court and on streets

FrontPolicemen try to calm a gangster during the court clash, Express

The police were taking gangster Maradu Aneesh to court when a fight broke out between his supporters and those of rival gangster Bhai Nazeer. Guarded by cops, Aneesh was out of it until he saw Nazeer on the court verandah. He then tried to snatch a revolver from a policeman, apparently hoping to shoot down his rival. Police had to struggle to overpower the gangsters.

Kochi's gang wars have become more intense than ever at a time when police were cracking down on gangsters. They had sent 26 either to jail or out of the district last year, under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities Prevention Act. The number of arrests under KAPA in Kochi in 2013 was the highest in the last seven years.

The clash between the Aneesh and Nazeer gangs took place on the verandah of the additional magistrate's court on December 22. Aneesh has been in the custody of Tamil Nadu police since 2012, while Nazeer was then out. The latter was arrested last week.

Both are accused in several cases of murder, attempted murder, hawala dealings, smuggling and dacoity. Members of their gangs are also involved in real estate, apart from acting as bouncers for event management groups and for parties at hotels in various cities. They have been targeting one another since each side lost a close aide to a police encounter or a rival attack.

Police trace the beginning of the recent hostilities to the killing of Joseph Sinoj, a member of Aneesh's gang. Sinoj died in an encounter with Tamil Nadu police in Dindigul in March 2012, when he was with a criminal wanted in that state. Aneesh believed Nazeer's gang had tipped police off about Sinoj's hideout in Dindigul. Sinoj, who hailed from Kochi, had been in hiding after the excise department issued a lookout notice against him.

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