CHENNAI: Land prices are going through the ceiling in Chennai and on its outskirts and this, criminologists and police officers say, has led to a spike in property disputes, many of which culminate in brutal murders.
The most prominent case so far is that of neurosurgeon Dr S D Subbiah, who contract killers attacked near Billroth Hospital on September 14, 2013, since when, to add insult to injury, an insurance firm put his grieving family through the skewers.
The root cause for the crime, investigators said, was a dispute over a 2.5-acre property.
There have been more than 400 murders due to property disputes between 2012 and 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
A week ago, the nephew and his friends of a real estate broker bludgeoned him to death with a cricket bat. “The motive was a dispute over a 6-acre plot worth 10 crore near Ponneri, a suburb 40 km north of Chennai,” an investigating officer said.
Chennai’s property values are nowhere near, say, Mumbai, but are among the highest among other metros in the country.
An investigator recalled the high-profile murder of former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran’s foster son-in-law Vijayan in 2009, believed to be the fallout of a battle between the matinee idol’s adopted children over his sprawling estate in Ramapuram in Chennai. Vijayan’s assailants followed him by car and hacked him to death near Alwarpet.
Senior police officers say that in such disputes, hired killers are used as it is difficult to prove the connection in a court of law and often the accused come out on bail.
“Many local politicians, who start out as thugs, are also involved in such land deals,” an officer said. “These people are brutal. So the murders often take place in full public view occur.”
He recalled the murder of AIADMK councillor M Guru near Ambattur last October as also the case of a city-based lawyer who was believed to have been involved in the murder of real estate businessman Abinesh Babu near the toll plaza in Chengalpet over a piece of land worth 2.5 crore.
Police officers probing these cases say the culprits rarely display any regret for their crimes. This is true not only for high profile cases, but also those involving middle-class citizens, where murders are generally due to a falling out between close family members.
“A land shark first uses threats and extortion. If the victims don’t oblige, murder almost always follows,” said a senior officer.
Credits ET Realty