Kannur: Two men were killed near Thalassery on Wednesday allegedly by a drug mafia gang, the police said. Khalid (52), a fisherman from Nittoor, and his brother-in-law Shameer (40) were hacked to death in the attack.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed shock over the recent murder and said the duo were killed for joining the government's fight against the drug menace.
The police on Thursday arrested the prime suspect Parayi Babu from Iritty. He is also a native of Nittoor.
The police had launched a manhunt for the accused in five teams. The police had earlier said that the accused had links with drug sales. The investigators also suspect that a dispute over a vehicle sale could also have been a motive behind the crime.
Babu's brother-in-law Jackson and two others -- Farhan and Naveen -- were also taken into custody earlier.
Police said the two men who were killed and a third person, who was the victims' relative, were attacked by the gang, a day after they brutally assaulted the son of one of the victims for objecting to the sale of banned substances by them, PTI reported.
Shameer's cousin Shanid (38), who was injured in the attack, was presently undergoing treatment at the Thalassery Cooperative Hospital, police said.
It was Shameer's son, Shabeel, who was beaten up allegedly by the same gang the previous day, police said. The accuse are absconding.
On Wednesday, while Khalid, Shameer and Shanid were at the hospital, the gang members allegedly called them to come outside to settle the matter amicably, it said.
As they came out of the hospital, the trio were allegedly attacked by the gang, which arrived in an autorickshaw, in the nearby parking area, police said.
All three were admitted at the Thalassery Cooperative Hospital by local residents, but Khalid succumbed to his injuries there and Shameer, who was shifted to a private hospital in Kozhikode, died in the evening, police said.
It also said that a dispute over the sale of autorickshaws was probably another reason for the violence by the gang led by an auto driver.
Strict action against culprits: CM
The gruesome murder comes amid the ongoing mass campaign against intoxicants and contraband substances in the state, he said, adding strict legal action would be initiated against the culprits.
Vijayan said there has been widespread interference of people against the drug abuse and questioning of the sale of the intoxicants now-a-days.
"Drug mafia gangs are upset about it and such acts must be dealt with without any compromise. The whole society should wake up and work for it," the Chief Minister said here in a statement.
Stating that such crimes should be viewed as a challenge against the land, he said similar gangs would be rooted out through comprehensive probe and coordinated interventions by the police and excise departments.
The society should be aware that those who join the fight against drugs should not be attacked this way, he said, adding that their family members should not be left helpless.
"Let's fight together to save our land and future generations from a disaster," the CM said and conveyed his condolence to the families of the deceased persons.
(With inputs from PTI)