The recent spate of armed dacoities and murders indicated that the crime in the city entered a new phase. In the last two months, there were two major armed dacoities – one at Darapalem and the other at PM Palem and three murders at Arilova, Marripalem and Beach Road.
The police are worried following reports of involvement of locals in all the cases. And the important observation made by some senior police officers is the trend that is setting in among the local gangs. Almost every gang member in the city is carrying a sharp-edged weapon.
About three years ago, there were only two major gangs in the city. One headed by the duo Telugu Anil Kumar and Kasim and the other was headed by the band-of-four Bathina Murali, Chittimamu, Latchu and Podugu Kiran. While Anil and Latchu were killed in rival attacks, Podugu Kiran committed suicide in jail. And the others such as Murali, Chittimamu and Kasim are cooling their heels in the jail, after they were booked under the PD Act.
But this has not stopped the breeding of the gangs. Each of the kingpins alive, continue to foster multiple sub-gangs from the jail and now the sub-gangs have fanned across the city right from the old Town Fishing Harbour area to Arilova and from Alipuram to Kancharapalem. And the worrying factor is that the gang members now tend to arm themselves with different kinds of weapons.
In total, there are about 372 identified rowdy-sheeters in the city, and of them about 120 are active, said a senior police officer.
Arming themselves has becoming a fad, and most of them procure the weapons, especially different kind of knives from various online sites.
The online sites exhibit different kinds of weapons such as spiked knives, double-edged knives and button knives. They are not very costly but are very sharp and can cause fatal wounds, said a police officer.
As per the Indian Arms Act, the permissible length of pocket knife is 3 inches but fruit vendors and butchers can have longer ones with prior permission, said ACP of City Task Force I. Chittibabu.
While online is one way to procure sharp-edged weapons and toy air-pistols that can beat an original in looks, the gang members procure the longer weapons such as swords and butcher knives from blacksmiths in Anakapalli, Yellamanchili, Alamanda and Kothavalasa, who specialise in making tailor-made sharp-edged weapons.
A majority of the gangs are located in areas such as Kailasapuram, Alipuram, Bhupesh Nagar, Jalaripeta in One Town area, Chakalagedda in Kancharapalem, Chavulamadum in Gnanapuram, Kaparada and Kancharapalem Mettu.
The breeding grounds for criminals are the permit rooms attached to wine shops in these areas and the local gyms.
About 60 % of the gang members are auto drivers and they carry weapons such as heavy iron rods in their autos or under the seat of their bikes. And movies have been a constant source of inspiration for them, said a senior officer.
Recently, the police arrested a gang in the One Town area, who named themselves as the Dandupalya gang. The name was derived from a movie of the same name that featured the story of the real Dandupalya gang of Karnataka.