A man facing trial for murder, was snatched away from his police escort and hacked to death by a 13-member gang in Tirunelveli on Friday. 48-year-old Balasubramaniam, an accused in the 1993 Asupathi Pannaiyar murder case, was being escorted by the police to the court, when the gang struck.
Balasubramanian, according to the Times of India, is a close aide of slain Dalit leader Pasupathi Pandian, and was lodged in the Palayamkottai prison in Tirunelveli. He was reportedly facing charges in nine cases, including murder.
The undertrial prisoner was being escorted by a police team comprising a sub-inspector, three constables and a driver. The attack took place at around 11am on Friday, about 8km from the prison, when the vehicle reached a checkpost in Palayamkottai. The attackers, intercepted the police vehicle in waiting cars and autorickshaws, and damaged it.
The attackers threw water mixed with chilli powder on the police team to distract them. Balasubramaniam was then forcibly removed from the SUV he was travelling in and hacked severely. Although he was rushed to the Tirunelveli Government Medical College Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries at around 12.30pm.
Investigations into the cause of the murder and the identity of the attackers is underway, but it is reportedly suspected that the murder is related to a decades-old group rivalry.
According to reports, the late Pasupathi Pandian's, heading the Devendrakula Vellalar Kootamaipu, and Subash Panniyar, the President of the the All-India Nadar Padhukaapu Peravai, were reportedly from rival groups. Subash's father Asupathi Panniyar and grandfather Sivasubramanian were murdered in 1993, and Balasubramanian was one of the accused in the case.