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Maharashtra law clone to tackle TN crime

Chennai, Dec. 26: Tamil Nadu is “on the threshold” of enacting another tough law on the lines of the Prevention Of Terrorism Act to combat the increasing number of gangs involved in organised crime.

The new legislation — conceived on the model of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act — would differ from the latter as it has been tailored to address types of organised crime peculiar to Tamil Nadu.

Speaking on the inaugural day of the 26th All India Criminology Conference at the Madras University here today, S. Ramani, additional director-general of police (crime branch-CID), Chennai, said a draft Bill, “Tamil Nadu Organised Crime Control Bill” has been sent to the government for approval.

P.S. Ramamohan Rao, the Governor and former Andhra Pradesh director-general of police, inaugurated the conference, organised jointly by the Indian Society of Criminology and the criminology department of the Madras University.

Ramani said the new legislation will cover a wide ambit of crimes by well-knit groups. These include contract murders, kidnapping for ransom, destruction of public property, bonded labour, trafficking in drugs, sex and illegal immigrants, illegal quarrying, food adulteration, smuggling, frauds by non-banking finance companies and money laundering.

Ramani, who referred to the “Veerappan gang” as the foremost of menaces faced by Tamil Nadu, said the brigand was involved in over 100 cases. Another powerful gang in Tamil Nadu was the “John Pandian gang”, based in Tirunelveli, he said.

The new provisions, which Ramani said would help police tackle “organised crime”, include powers to confiscate property that will break the financial backbone of the gangs, powers to give police remand to the accused up to 30 days and judicial remand of up to 180 days and protection of the identity of the witnesses.

The new legislation will also allow confessions by an accused to a police officer not below the rank of the superintendent of police, either in writing or through any mechanical device, as admissible evidence in a court of law, said Ramani.

Although organised crime is basically an “urban phenomenon”, the speakers were concerned at its enormous potential to disrupt the national economy with its international ramifications, mafia groups’ links with religious fundamentalists and the threats it posed to the nation’s sovereignty.

Mumbai inspector-general of police Sridevi Goel said contrary to popular belief, earlier there was communal amity among criminal groups in the country’s financial capital.

For instance, the Dawood Ibrahim gang had “many Hindu henchmen”, while gangs run by Hindus had Muslims on their payrolls. But it was the serial blasts in 1993 that changed the picture. Since then, Goel said, the mafia groups got communally polarised with Hindu underworld elements rallying behind figures like Chhota Rajan and Arun Gawli, while Muslim henchmen swung towards Dawood Ibrahim, amidst free flow of money and arms.

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