Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 2 The background of encountered criminals

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 2
The background of encountered criminals - Venkatesh Pannaiyar
This was an encounter which resulted in the transfer of the charismatic Vijayakumar IPS, the then Commissioner of Police, Chennai. Read on to understand how the police fight crime with one arm tied behind their back. Also how the media, which cant shed its caste and community prejudices, packed off an efficient officer from the state itself, in spite of delivering whatever assignment given to him.

The diminutive and nattily dressed Venkatesh Pannaiyar won’t physically fit the prevalent image of a don.
But he is a product of generations of caste feud plaguing Southern TamilNadu. His family is from Moolakarai near Tuiticorin; an area with the dubious reputation for making country bombs and gun running.
Venkatesh's uncle, grandfather - important elders of their community have been murdered by Dalits, when he was a boy. Venkatesh, grew up as a natural leader and rallied the youth to form Nadar Padhugapu Peravai (Organization for protection of Nadars). He also gained political clout by working for ADMK in the '96 elections, but gradually fell out of favour with the party leadership after his name was linked to extortion rackets.

When Vijayakumar took over as CoP in Dec 2001, organized crime was well entrenched in Chennai, thanks to the previous DMK government which encouraged the dons. 
Vijayakumar IPS
The present CoP Mr J K Tripathy was then Joint Commissioner. This team went on overdrive to eliminate these gangs. They mapped the gangs’ members and analyzed their network.
The police were following up leads on various extortions and gun running. The name of Venkatesh Pannaiyar cropped up and when they probed further it was a surprise to find his network had deep tentacles in Daravi, Mumbai and even Bihar which was the source of small arms; even though Venkatesh Pannaiyar was an unknown entity outside Tuticorin and surrounding districts.
The well known dons in Chennai at that time were Punk Kumar, Vellai Ravi, Ayodhyakuppam Veeramani, Appu (of Kanchi Sankara mutt murder fame); all of them had vacated Chennai in a hurry once the Vijayakumar & J K Tripathy duo started the cleanup drive.

Venakatesh Pannaiyar was going around in Chennai doing only high-value extortions and kept a low profile; except for an incident which was an aberration.
One night at the Taj hotel to protect a couple from a group harassing them, Venkatesh took out his pistol. This created panic in the crowded bar but the hotel was forced to hush it up, due to the intervention of some police officers.

By September of 2003, the special cell in CCB (Central Crime Branch) which dealt with organized crime had built a bulky dossier on Venkatesh; his extortion rackets and arms running marked him as a don, with an unrivalled geographical reach.
After continuous surveillance the CCB decided to pick him up for enquiry, related to an extortion complaint in Kilpauk station.
The team led from the front by the DC himself, knocked the door of his apartment, near Loyola College on the road to Mahalingapuram. It was almost early morning and probably Venkatesh was groggy after a bout of drinking. Once he saw the police at the door he started firing. The police team had no other alternative than to fire back. 36 years old Venkatesh Pannaiyar died and two of his accomplices were held.

Till Pannayar's encounter, the media has elevated Vijayakumar as a hero who brought law and order back in Chennai; in spite of the 7 encounters in 2 years. There was even a rumour floating around that he may become Home-Secretary, even though he was an IPS officer and not an IAS cadre.
The major Tamil newspapers, especially Thinakaran and Thinathanthi led the unrelenting attack on Chennai police. They wouldn’t settle for anything less than the CoP’s transfer and a CBI enquiry.

At that time Tamilnadu assembly speaker ordered the arrest of The Hindu journalists, which the city police messed up. So the disappointed CM scored 2 hits with one stone. Vijayakumar was transferred to STF to chase forest brigand Veerappan and the powerful Nadar media baying for Vijayakumar's scalp was silenced.

See this video to get an inkling of the nature of caste worship, eulogizing Venkatesh Pannaiyar - NADAR SINGHAM  
Its another story that DMK pounced on the opportunity in the next parliament elections and made Venakatesh's widow Radhika Selvi an MP. She became The Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Manmohan Singh ministry! Ironically Mr Vijayakumar would have saluted her every time they came across each other..hmmm.
Part I - Police encounters and media 
Part III - Police & fake encounters - Tip of the iceberg


Co-ordinator / Instructor, Chennai Chapter, Krav Maga (IKMF) India
Mobile: 93400 06600, Email-
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TWEET - @kravMagaSreeRam

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 1

The Dynamics of Police encounters - Part 1

Since 2002 I have been asked to assist the police on various ‘encounters’, including the recent Chennai Bank robbery gang. Having the twin advantage of the objectivity as a civilian who enjoys the front-row view of the inner dynamics of police-criminal confrontations, I have my two cents worth on the subject of police encounters.
I will be covering the Media's role in this first part. I will proceed to the encountered criminals' background and later how equipped is the force for effective policing.

Part I - Police encounters and the Media

I totally accept the dictum that in a working democracy each institution, like Legislature, Judiciary, Politicians and the Media has also the responsibility of keeping each others in check. This prevents power being blatantly misused by any unchecked institution.

The media does its journalistic duty of putting everything on the proper perspective, by giving visibility to various points-of-view, substantiated by expert opinions.  

The media should ideally provide a mirror without distortion. But most of them resort to either of the two extreme postures - nodding their heads in "YES..YES..YES" to whatever the power centres do or shaking their heads with an adamant "NO..NO..NO".
My agenda is not to get into the compulsive reasons for these desperate postures, but analyzing how these affect public psyche.

Now translating these extreme postures to popular cinema, we find only 2 kinds of police - totally corrupt and drunk with power or honest and adamantly naive. This is a very simplistic black and white interpretation suitable for the lowest common denominator of the audience.
But real life is more of a grey spectrum. A sophisticated creator is known by his ability to dwell in these grey areas. 

The police officer is caught in a web of Demanding political masters, the Cynical media, The Mafia which has the backing of money and power, Burgeoning urban crime graph and the poor Clueless law-abiding public who looks up to the police for protection. And he has to tackle all these with a force lacking in technology and motivation. 

A responsible journalist will understand this and not fall into easy routes of whipping up emotional jingoism or paranoia. Unfortunately, most of the field level reporters lack the intellect to be analytical; at the most they can be only be investigative. They look for obvious interpretations which fit into the template of their theories.
Its the onus of Seniors in journalism to show how to walk the mid-path of responsible reporting.
Other relevant posts -

Co-ordinator / Instructor, Chennai Chapter, Krav Maga (IKMF) India
Mobile: 93400 06600, Email-
Chennai Group -
TWEET - @kravMagaSreeRam

Monday, February 20, 2012


KravMaga close combat for Police 
The concerns to be taken into consideration when training police in close combat are –
CONCERN 1 - Police can't use force disproportionate to the threat and risk being censured by human rights activists and media.
  • The techniques taught to field patrol officers should NOT involve hitting of vital parts
  • KravMaga teaches hitting VULNERABLE parts & NOT VITAL parts
  • The focus should be on DISARMING, cutting his MOBILITY and CONTROL of the aggressor.
CONCERN 2 - While a civilian can neutralize an attacker and leave the scene, Police job is NOT complete till control and arrest of the attacker.
  • Stress on submission techniques & takedowns.
  • Emphasize personal safety of the policeman –
    (ex) long weapon > go short; short weapon >> go long
  • Teach criminal escorting holds
CONCERN 3 - While civilian training is more on self defense, training to police has to give importance to pro-active intervention in a violent situation.
  • Teach intervention in 3rd party disputes  and disarming of different types of weapons
CONCERN 4 - Training should address specific needs of job profile - Regular beat officer, VIP protection, SWAT commandos and prison guards.
  • Beat officer has to focus on intervention in brawls, handling crowds, escorting suspects.
  • Extricating VIPs from different types of attacks – armed attacks, bomb attacks, over enthusiastic supporters ( here the problem is attacking the aggressor will be frowned upon)
  • For commandos training has to emphasize on handling hostage situations, barricaded attacks.
  • Prison guards training will emphasize on facing improvised crude weapons and gang attacks.

CONCERN 5 - Police don’t get enough regular hours to practice. Most of them don’t get any organized course after basic training.
  • Police should NOT be taught intricate and sophisticated tactics which require constant practice and optimum physical fitness
  • The stress should be on tactics which employ gross motor skills based on natural reflex
  • The techniques should be simple & applicable even under extreme physical & mental stress
CONCERN 6 - Training should stress on local needs. 
  • For instance, In this state of TamilNadu training should also include handling long sickle (aruval), casuarinas sticks (urutu kattai) which are commonly used.
CONCERN 7 – Ensuring sustainability
  • Specific curriculum of 20 techniques relevant to job profile ( Beat officer / VIP protection / Commando / Prison guards ) should be created
  • Training the Trainer programs should be conducted, based on the above curriculum.
  • Instructors for NEW INDUCTEES are top priority since it’s easier to inculcate safety aspects early.
  • For EXPERIENCED police, teaching methodology should be based only on reality as they tend to be cynical
  • Certificates should be awarded to policemen who complete these unarmed combat courses, and these should be taken into cognizance for career appraisals
  • For knowledge to percolate down the system, provide a newsletter to senior officers, on emerging trends in policing issues and specific instances.
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S.SREERAMCo-ordinator / InstructorChennai Chapter, Krav Maga (IKMF) India
Mobile: 93400 06600
Email-  kravmaga.chennai@gmail.comChennai
Group -
 "So that one may walk in peace" ... Imi Lichtenfeld, Founder of KravMaga
TWEET - @kravMagaSreeRam
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