1,773 goondas are roaming free in Kerala, says police data

Representational image.

Thiruvananthapuram: A whopping 1,773 goondas (history-sheeters) are operating unhindered in Kerala and are attacking even the police, according to official records.

The State Police Chief had issued a directive to the ADGP (Additional Director General of Police) in charge of law and order, range IGs (Inspector Generals) and district police before the general elections to immediately arrest the 1,800 history-sheeters in the state who were roaming free. This directive, which was also passed on to the Election Commission, pointed out that the habitual offenders in Kerala engaged in a wide range of crimes, from murder to illegal sand mining.

After the State Police Chief’s order was issued, police arrested a mere 107 of the 1,800 criminals on the list, that too only when various courts cancelled their bail. The remaining 1,773 gangsters are still free. Some other habitual offenders reach police stations at regular intervals and sign the register. It is also alleged that cops do not keep a watch on criminals who are released on bail from prison.

40 active gangs
The Kerala police recently identified 40 criminal gangs operating in the state and Bengaluru. Around 470 goondas are part of these gangs that are mainly engaged in the wholesale distribution of drugs from Bengaluru to Kerala. The Kerala Police obtained this information based on an enquiry carried out after the arrest of four gangsters by the Karnataka Police. A senior officer of the Kerala Police said that a joint operation is being planned with the Karnataka cops to suppress these gangs.

142 murders in the state
An intelligence report has said that crimes by gangs have spread from the urban to the rural areas of Kerala. The number of attacks on police personnel has also trebled, compared to the previous year, said the report.

The police authorities have also found that a majority of the 142 murders reported in the state during the first four months of this year had a connection with drugs. Incidentally, only 103 murders took place in the state during the corresponding period last year.

Why don’t the police act?
Several reasons have been cited for the lack of action from the police against goondas. The main one being, that most of the police officers had taken over duties at the stations just before the election and they would be returning to their earlier station when the results are announced. Consequently, they have little interest in pursuing gangsters during the short term in the present police stations.

Another reason for the lack of a crackdown on goondas is that the state-level crime conference which takes place every three months has not been held for over six months. This meeting is attended by the State Police Chief and top police officers.

Moreover, an internal report of the Home Department has said that officers from the lowest level prefer to take no risks during duty. Similarly, the Intelligence has reported that police officers often try to negotiate with gangs dealing with drugs through mediators, even when they receive information about a possible attack.

Yet another issue is raised by District Police Chiefs, who complain that District Collectors have not taken action on the list of KAAPA (Kerala Antisocial Activities (Prevention) Act) offenders submitted by them, for over four months.

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