Sridhar Dhanapalan

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Sridhar’s history sheet

The Times of India, January 28, 2016

Sridhar’s history sheet; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 28, 2016

A Selvaraj

The term, `Sridhar's corner' may sound harmless, even innocuous. It may well have been one if it was just an informal appellation that the owners of the restaurant gave to a table where Sridhar and his friends, regular customers, liked to sit every day and have their coffee and evening snacks.In Kancheepuram, Sridhar's corner is a no-go area for others, despite Sridhar having left for Dubai nearly three years ago.After `Bullet' Satish was hacked for daring to sit there and order a dosa, hotel staff ensure no one else occupies it. Sridhar looks anything but a fearsome rowdy . With a small frame and cherubic face, Sridhar could pass off as a petty busiessman who has come into some money in recent times.

On the phone, too, Sridhar comes across as soft-natured. He would tell the man on the other end ­ usually a landowner who has inherited property but has little community or political backing ­ things about his family that no outsider would probably know . It would mean that Sridhar's murderous eyes were on his property and he had to sell it to Sridhar for whatever price Srid har demanded.

Kancheepuram residents know Sridhar well enough. He could be living in Dubai but has struck terror in the town to indicate he is in control. Sridhar has barely studied up to Class 7. Yet, he is a high-flying fugitive now. He loves to be photographed near a Mercedes or an Audi in Dubai. Police say he has acquired property and oil wells in the Gulf. Sridhar's career in crime took off after the real estate boom in 2000s made farmlands in backward Kancheepuram valuable suburban property .

A legit broker initially, Sridhar became the go-to man for Chennaiites and NRIs looking to salt away money in Kancheepuram land but didn't know where to look or who to trust. His contacts in police and government officials were particularly useful.

Sridhar's reputation apparently took on a different hue when he forced a restaurant owner to shut shop and leave town overnight so Sridhar could grab the property. Sridhar Dhanapalan is facing seven murder cases, 14 attempts-to-murder and 22 other cases including extortion. Many of these murders happend in public ­ designed to create shock and awe in the district.

`Sridhar Anna' had become a hunted man in 2012 when IPS officer Xavier Dhanraj, working as the superintendent of police in the vigilance and anti-corruption wing, turned the screws on him. His ac complices were arrested and put in jail.

Sridhar himself was arrested several times but he jumped bail. By April 2013, he had fled to Dubai ­ apparently he had been siphoning off extortion money to build a base there.

But his daring and the brutality of murders he is alleged to engineer have only increased. Police say he called an inspector named Sarathy on Jan 3 this year and warned him against acting against his henchmen. “Two days later, Sridhar's men targeted a businessman in Kancheepuram as he refused to accept a land deal. After following the businessman for a couple of days, a gang decided to eliminate him at a tennis court that he visited every morning. But the target scaled the high walls of the court and escaped.The assailants posed as tennis players and brought a tennis kit in a huge bag. The same tennis gang murdered scrap merchant Abdullah in Kancheepuram district.We recovered some parts of the tennis kit from the scene of the murder,“ says a senior police officer.

Sridhar continues to be active. In the last 15 days, police say, he closed three land deals and completed registration of property worth Rs 30 crore.

Sridhar's lawyer Sudhan denies all charges and says Sridhar would surrender before an honest police official like Tamil Nadu DGP Ashok Kumar.

Meanwhile, Interpol has issued a red corner notice on him. Kancheepuram police had issued a `look out' circular to all airports.

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