Two days after a 53-year-old government official was killed, allegedly by the sand mining mafia, in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district, the hunt is on for the second of the two suspects. The prime accused was arrested on Tuesday (April 25), the day of the attack itself.
Y Lourthu Francis, who worked as a Village Administrative Officer (VAO), was reportedly hacked to death at his office in Murappanadu at Srivaikundam Taluk in Thoothukudi on Tuesday. Chief Minister MK Stalin has announced a solatium of Rs 1 crore to his family and a government job for one member, saying the state honoured Francis’ sense of responsibility and duty.
Pattali Makkal Katchi chief Anbumani Ramadoss on Wednesday (April 26) urged Stalin to take strict action against the killers. Condemning the state government for not acting firmly enough against the sand mafia, he said the latter must be booked under the stringent Goondas Act.
Also read: How rivers, lands and lives are lost for in-demand sand in Tamil Nadu
Also on Wednesday, members of the Tamil Nadu VAO Association staged an agitation in front of the Thoothukudi collectorate to protest against Francis’ death.
Stalin earlier said that preliminary probe showed Francis had lodged a complaint against the now-arrested man Ramasubbu for sand smuggling. A case was also registered against him. In revenge, Ramasubbu and another man allegedly went to the VAO’s office and killed him.
District collector K Senthil Raj on Tuesday told the media that Francis had been working as the VAO at Murappanadu for about one and a half years. Senthil Raj said around 12.30 pm on Tuesday, two people entered the VAO office and hacked Francis brutally with sickles.
While the attackers reportedly fled right after the attack, Francis was rushed to Tirunelveli Government Medical College Hospital with several cuts on his head and hand. However, he succumbed to his injuries. “He was an honest and brave officer,” the collector told the media.
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Illegal sand mining is a big menace across India, with many other serious crimes being linked to it. Ten days ago, three officers from the mining department, including two women, were allegedly attacked by the sand mafia in Bihta town in Bihar’s Patna district. Patna police arrested 44 people for the incident.
(With agency inputs)