Sri Lankan don ‘dies’ in Tamil Nadu, police suspect staged death

Angoda Lokka had been absconding since 2017 after a prison bus shooting near Kalutara in Sri Lanka

Angoda Lokka
Angoda Lokka. Photo: By special arrangement

The Tamil Nadu police, who are investigating the death of a 35-year-old man believed to be Sri Lankan underworld don Maddumage Chandana Lasantha Perera alias Angoda Lokka, have ruled out the claims that Lokka was poisoned to death.

However, police are having a tough time as they have also received inputs from the Sri Lankan agencies that the death might be a conspiracy to make people believe that Lokka was dead.

Lokka had been absconding since 2017 after a prison bus shooting near Kalutara in Sri Lanka. He lived for a while in Bengaluru and Madurai, before moving to Coimbatore.

He stayed at Saravanampatti for the last three years, before moving to Balaji Nagar in Cheran Ma Nagar in Coimbatore, where he has been living for the past three months.

“After absconding, he had first reached Bengaluru with forged documents and had sought the help of T Sivakami Sundari, a lawyer at Madurai. She has helped him and given space to stay at Madurai for three months based on the recommendation of a friend from Dubai,” said a senior official who was part of the investigation.

The man believed to be Lokka has been identified here as Pradeep Singh. Sivakami has asked her friend Thiyaneswaran to help the man in getting Aadhaar card and other documents before arranging a rented house for his stay.

After Lokka settled in Saravanampatti with Pradeep Singh’s identity, a woman named Amani Dhanji (27), wife of Lokka’s rival whom he had killed several years ago, started to visit his place often.

“However, the residents could not accept this and frequently complained about the visit of Dhanji. In February, as Dhanji visited him again, but this time with a plan to stay with him for a while, they had no other option but to vacate the house from Saravanampatti,” said the senior official.

In Coimbatore, Lokka has been supplying protein supplements to gyms in the city. Again, with the help of Thiyaneswaran, the couple managed to rent a house, belonging to a person in the US, at Cheran Ma Nagar in Coimbatore by March.

“Lokka and Dhanji have moved to Cheran Ma Nagar in the city by March this year stating that they were natives of Dubai and were stuck here because of the pandemic. Believing the same, a relative of the house owner rented the house to the duo,” said another officer with the Coimbatore city police.

The Federal visited the place Cheran Ma Nagar where Lokka and Dhanji resided and spoke to a few residents. Most of them had hardly seen him. “Since those were lockdown days, we hardly spoke to any of them. But, we have seen the man smoking on the streets and talking over the phone,” said a woman, who did not want to be named.

Most of the residents to whom The Federal spoke to said they were shocked and could not believe that he was an underworld don.

On July 3, after Lokka allegedly suffered cardiac arrest and died at his home, the body was taken to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH). Being alerted, police had registered a case and an autopsy was performed at CMCH.

The next day, Sivagami Sundari rushed to the Peelamedu police station claiming that she was a relative of Lokka, who was identified as Pradeep Singh and took the body to cremate at Madurai.

Only after Sri Lankan media started reporting about the case, Sri Lankan agencies alerted the Tamil Nadu police. Later, the Coimbatore city police took up the matter and inquired into it. During the course of investigation, police arrested lawyer Sivagami Sundari, her friend Thiyaneswaran and the Sri Lankan woman Amani Dhanji.

While Sivagami and Thiyaneswaran were remanded under judicial custody, Amani Dhanji has been admitted to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for treatment after she suffered bleeding from her private parts.

Sources in CMCH confirmed that she was two months pregnant and it was aborted. “She is believed to have taken abortion pills recently,” a source at CMCH said.

Meanwhile, as the case had foreign links, the case was transferred to CB-CID police. CB-CID IG Shankar said they had formed seven special teams to investigate the matter. Two separate cases have been filed. One, regarding the death of the man believed to be Lokka, and two, for creating forged documents for a foreign national.

While reports suggest that Sri Lankan officials have inputs that Lokka underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance, CB-CID sources said it would be a herculean task to confirm whether the person who died was Lokka or not.

“If the body was buried, we could take the remains to conduct a DNA test. But, since the body is cremated, it is difficult. The only available evidence for DNA matching was the samples extracted at the time of autopsy,” said a CB-CID official.

However, the official said it would be a long process as they have to conclude the other details before going for a DNA test.

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