A tiff over cigarette smoking led to the murder of man after he in the Chennai suburb of Pallikaranai on Sunday night.
Thirty-year-old Velu of Vallal Pari Nagar village near Pallikaranai had a fight with one Santosh Kumar of the same locality some time back. Santosh’s elder brother Suresh Kumar and Velu very often came to blows, the police said on Monday.
Things reached a head when Velu took strong objection to Suresh Kumar smoking a cigarette near the Rudragiri Amman shrine in the locality on Sunday night.
The devotees had thronged the temple for a festival when Velu picked up a heated argument with Suresh saying it amounted to “disrespecting” the goddess. Soon, Velu lost his cool.
The situation turned ugly when Velu, in a fit of rage, barged into the temple and grabbed an aruval (a type of knife usually kept inside temples to skin off the top portion of tender coconuts before being offered to the deity). He attacked Suresh Kumar with the weapon resulting into serious injuries to the latter’s hands and legs, the police said.
The bleeding Suresh fell on the ground and the devotees fled the scene. Local electrician Raghu, who had done the lighting arrangements for the temple festival, tried to intervene but fell prey to Velu.
With the blood-stained aruval in his hands, Velu struck a deadly blow on Raghu’s head. Realising that the strike was fatal, Velu immediately fled the spot. Raghu died on the spot, while Suresh Kumar was later admitted to a nearby private hospital.
As the news of the murder spread in the neighbourhood, agitated relatives of Suresh Kumar and the deceased marched towards the hospital. They smashed several auto-rickshaws and motorcycles on their way. They also demanded the immediate arrest of Velu.
Sub-inspector Dinakaran rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control. Three police teams have been formed to nab the prime accused Velu. A case under IPC Section 302 (murder) has also been registered.