Sand mafia murders Village Administrative Officer in Tamil Nadu

Published : Apr 25, 2023 19:25 IST - 2 MINS READ

Lourdhu Francis, the murdered VAO.

Lourdhu Francis, the murdered VAO. | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangement

Lourdhu Francis had been resisting many attempts by gangs to mine sand from the Tamiraparani river.

A Village Administrative Officer (VAO) of the Tamil Nadu government was hacked to death on April 25 inside his office at Morappanadu revenue village in Thoothukudi district by sand mafia criminals.

According to sources, Lourdhu Francis (56) of Kovilputhur, after returning to his office at Morappanadu, was accosted by two persons who started quarrelling with him inside the office premises. Suddenly the duo started attacking Francis with deadly weapons. The official sustained multiple injuries on his head, shoulders, stomach, and arms.

Upon hearing the commotion, some people rushed to his room where they found him in a pool of blood. He was rushed to the Tirunelveli Medical College Government Hospital where he was declared dead. One of the assailants, identified as Ramasubramanian, an illicit sand miner, was caught after a chase while a special team has been formed to nab the other accused, Marimuthu.

The Morappanadu police have registered a case and are investigating his murder.

Sources had previously told Frontline that Francis had been resisting the attempts of multiple sand mafia gangs to mine sand from the nearby Tamiraparani river. In fact, his family members claimed that he had sought police protection since he had been facing multiple threats from sand mafia gangs and others in the area. But it was not provided.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced a solatium of Rs.1 crore to the victim’s family. Last year, an activist was killed by quarry miners in Namakkal district for flagging illegal mining.

Thoothukudi SP L. Balaji Saravanan rushed to the spot and conducted an inquiry. Collector K. Senthilraj visited Francis’ family and offered his condolences. Besides before his transfer to Morappanadu village a year ago, Francis had worked as VAO at Adichanallur, where he helped the Thoothukudi district administration retrieve encroached lands and handed over the same to the Archaeological Department for important excavation works.

The Collector said that Francis had faced life threats even at Adichanallur for removing encroachments from government lands. On his recommendations, the District Collector had detained a few persons under the Goondas’ Act.

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