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Month after man died, Tamil Nadu cops probe if he was Lanka druglord

Lokka, 35, had gone missing from Sri Lanka in 2017 and is believed to have been living in the state for the past year.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: August 4, 2020 10:45:28 am
Month after man died, Tamil Nadu cops probe if he was Lanka druglord Lokka may have been in Tamil Nadu for a year.

THE Tamil Nadu Police is investigating if a man who died a month ago in Coimbatore was wanted Sri Lankan druglord Maddumage Chandana Lasantha Perera alias Angoda Lokka.

Lokka, 35, had gone missing from Sri Lanka in 2017 and is believed to have been living in the state for the past year.

The man whose death police are probing in Coimbatore went by the name Pradeep Singh. In February, a woman called Amani Dhanji, 27, had arrived from Sri Lanka and started living with him. She is now under arrest.

The police inquiry was sparked off by a query by a journalist over a media report in Lanka, saying Lokka had been poisoned by a rival Bengaluru-based gang and his body brought to Coimbatore.

The office of the Sri Lankan Police media division told The Indian Express they are yet to confirm the news. A senior official of the criminal investigation wing at Colombo said they had started a probe in the matter on July 22.

Lokka had gone missing shortly after a prison bus shooting in which five inmates, all prominent underworld suspects, and two policemen were killed near the town of Kalutara. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Sri Lanka after the defeat of the LTTE.

Apart from Dhanji, police are looking into the role of Madurai-based lawyer, T Sivakami Sundari.

On July 3, the two of them had brought Singh’s body to Coimbatore Medical College, claiming Singh had a cardiac arrest. A case was registered under Section 174 of the CrPC (over “unnatural” death). The next day, Sundari had approached police claiming Singh was a relative, and was allowed to take his body to Madurai for cremation.

A senior officer probing the case said that in Coimbatore, Singh alias Lokka supplied protein supplements to body-building centres. “Earlier, Sundari helped Lokka hide at her residence for three months. Sundari’s friend S Dhiyaneswaran, 32, from Tirupur helped him get a rented house in Coimbatore city. We also have information that Sundari helped Lokka get an Aadhaar card in the name of Pradeep Singh,” the officer said. Coimbatore Police Commissioner Sumit Saran said Lokka was wanted in Sri Lanka for multiple offences. On Monday, the case was shifted to the CB-CID wing. Police’s suspicions were raised due to the circumstances of the 35-year-old’s death, Singh’s North Indian identity as well as the name Dhanji. The wife of a rival of Lokka whom he had killed was also called Dhanji.

The Lankan officer said, “There was information that Lokka had escaped to India and the wife of his rival who was murdered by him was meeting him often… Our information was that last year, Lokka was severely injured after he was hit by a lorry and was being treated at a Bengaluru hospital. But we were unable to ascertain details of his treatment in Bengaluru or his reported death in early July. We also suspect this may be a conspiracy to make us believe he died… We have inputs that he underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance.”

He added that a raid on premises owned by Lokka last week had led to the arrest of his aides, and the seizure of a hawk that, he said, might have been used in transporting drug consignments.

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