Chennai, May 28: Police say the needle of suspicion in last week’s murder of a former DMK minister and MP points firmly at the elder son of party chief M. Karunanidhi.
M.K. Azhagiri was arrested on May 21, a day after Pasumponn T. Kiruttinan was killed near his Madurai home. He has been lodged in Tiruchi Central Prison ever since.
Five others have been arrested in connection with the murder and charged with “plotting and executing the crime”.
This was announced late last night by Madurai city police commissioner Kandasamy.
. Ibrahim Sait surrendered before a Chennai court yesterday. Those arrested in Madurai yesterday are P.M. Mannan, former president of Aavin, the apex milk co-operative in the state, Essar Gopi, a local DMK ward secretary, Mubarak Manthri, the Madurai DMK students wing organiser, and Karathe Siva, another local party functionary.
Police said the accused confessed to the crime and that a car used by them has been seized. They have been remanded in judicial custody till June 11 and lodged in the Madurai central jail. Azhagiri was the first to be arrested and remanded in judicial custody.
The police commissioner said a case against those arrested yesterday has been filed under Sections 302 (murder) and 420-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, based on a complaint by Kiruttinan’s younger brother, Ramaiah.
Initial investigations and information supplied by Kiruttinan’s relatives suggest political rivalry led to the veteran leader’s murder. Questioning of front-ranking Madurai DMK functionaries suggests Azhagiri was “the brain behind the murder”.
The party’s south Tamil Nadu units have been plagued by factionalism, with one group owing allegiance to Azhagiri and the other to younger brother and youth wing leader, M.K. Stalin.
Police say Azhagiri had been nursing a grouse since April last year after his supporters were sidelined by Stalin in Sivaganga district by the unit chief Kiruttinan.
The incident has widened the chasm between the two groups in many party units in the south.
When organisation elections were announced for the southern districts of Sivaganga, Theni and Virdhunagar, Azhagiri averted an intra-party contest by arriving at a consensus on sharing posts in those districts.
But veteran Sivaganga leader, Kiruttinan, who was also the DMK Madurai zonal convenor, took exception to this and got the high command to issue a poll schedule. Azhagiri took this as a “personal affront” and wanted to take revenge against Kiruttinan for this, police say.
Subsequent developments during the election increased the ill-feeling between the two groups. This made Azhagiri think his political future was at stake and that Kiruttinan was responsible for the turn of events.
Two days before the murder, Azhagiri asked his supporters in Madurai, which also witnessed polls for the urban district unit, to withdraw nominations for all party posts. But despite this, police say Azhagiri’s hatred for Kiruttinan persisted. It was then that a “conspiracy was hatched” at Azhagiri’s residence to “finish off” Kiruttinan, the FIR says.
Gopi was entrusted with the murder, with Mannan to assist him. The weapons were arranged and the conspirators met again at a Madurai hotel on the night of May 19 to finalise their plan.
Police said the job of actually shooting Kiruttinan was assigned to Manthri and Sait, who did the needful as the former minister returned home on May 20 after his morning stroll.