Andhra's coastal city of Visakhapatnam on Friday woke up to the news of a chilling murder on the streets, of notorious gangster Mohammed Khasim (40). The crime, which seemed like something out of a movie, took place at around 10 pm on Thursday night and the police said that it was the result of a gang-war.
Police said that five unidentified people, who were suspected to belong to the Merugu Chittibabu alias Chittimamu gang, planned the murder.
Khasim, who was on his way home on a two-wheeler from the cityâ€™s diamond park area, was hit by two auto rickshaws. Even as he fell, unidentified men stepped out of the vehicle, pointed a pistol at him from point blank range and then hacked him to death with sickles and swords, by slashing his neck and head.
A senior investigation officer told TNM that the murder was an outcome of a long-standing rivalry between the gangs of Khasim and Chittimamu.
The Two Town Police have registered a case.
"A case under relevant sections of IPC including murder and criminal conspiracy has been registered" Two Town Inspector Ramana said.
Speaking to TNM, East Sub-division ACP Narasimha Murthy said, "The main reason behind the murder seems to be the rivalry between the gangs."
Investigation authorities have launched a manhunt to identify and nab the accused. According to the ACP, there are as many as 10 police teams that are working on different aspects of the investigation.
The deceased Khasim and prime suspect Chittimamu have several cases against them and the Preventive Detention (PD) Act was imposed on them. In fact, Khasim was released from jail on bail in a murder case in June this year.
Several suspected men from across the city were taken into custody and are presently being questioned by the police.
According to senior police officials, the rivalry in gangsters is not a new episode as the rift started in June 2011 with a double murder, which claimed the life of rowdy sheeter Merugu Rajesh, a relative of Merugu Chittibabu who was faithful to the gang, allegedly by Khasim and his allies including his own nephew, Anil Kumar.
Following this, Anil Kumar became notorious for involving himself in illegal settlements and extortions in real estate dealings. Anil continued his activities and indulged in violence until he was brutally murdered in May 2015.
Police said that Anil was chased at Allipuram junction in the city by rivals with dangerous weapons. The Vizag police at that time, arrested Podugu Kiran Kumar, in whose gang Chittimamu (the present prime suspect) was a member.
However, Podugu Kiran Kumar allegedly hanged himself in Visakhapatanam jail after he was arrested.
With Anil's murder, Khasim's gang grew angry and wanted revenge against Kiranâ€™s gang which was being overseen by Chittimamu, following Kiranâ€™s death.
While Khasim was looking to take revenge, Chittimamu who is as big as Khasim in the world of crime (illegal settlements, extortions) became a tough foe.
The violent run continued as investigators also said that real estate played a crucial role in helping them rake in money and play their part in shaping the crime culture of Visakhapatnam.
The rivalry also reared its head, often turning into physical clashes which resulted in murders, according to local media reports.
Investigators suspect that Chittimamu couldn't bear that Khasim got the upper hand in some â€˜land settlementsâ€™ and he hatched a plan to eliminate him.
To say it in a senior officerâ€™s words, "Khasim in a way, had become a threat to the dominance and leadership of Chittimamu," in the murky crime trade.
Meanwhile, police said that an investigation is underway and they would nab all the accused involved in the crime.