Gang wars in Virajpet: Congress leader is the latest victim
Virajpet, the second most important town in Kodagu, has become the gangland of Kodagu, where shootouts involving high-profile targets have become a regular feature over the years.
It all started with Kunjanda Ravi Chengappa, a charismatic figure facing criminal charges, being bumped off in 2005, by a sharp-shooter. It was a single shot fired from a moving van. The bullet pierced through Ravi’s head even as his driver stood next to him looking dazed in the heart of the town.
Early this year, Suja Kushalappa, brother of MLA Appachu Ranjan, was shot by a gang near the sub-registrar’s office. Luckily, Suja, who is now the president of the Kodagu BJP, survived the attack, though he suffered bullet injuries.
The latest victim of the shoot-out is Congress leader and former Kodagu ZP vice-president Iqbal Hassan , aged 46, (in picture), who was shot dead in broad daylight by unidentified assailants at a restaurant near the Clock Tower on September 17. Iqbal was killed by car-borne miscreants who shot him in the chest and the Congress leader died instantly.
A bullet hit Chandrasekhar, who was having food at the restaurant and not connected with Iqbal, suffered bullet injuries.
It is believed that Iqbal was reportedly involved in a dispute over a property with one of his neighbours and this was suspected to be the cause for the killing.
Iqbal was elected to Kodagu ZP from Kadanur constituency in Virajpet taluk and served as ZP vice-president for two years from July, 2000. He was also ZP in-charge president for a short period.
What is worrisome about all the three shootouts was the fact that they were high-profile targets. This shows that contract killers were used to settle scores.
The brazen shoot-outs in broad daylight show the Virajpet police in poor light. There is apparently a failure of intelligence. Since Virajpet is bordering Kerala, there is need for stepping up police patrol and intelligence gathering.
Further, Virajpet has been communally sensitive and there is need for intensive policing to check anti-social elements.