Several small mobs collectively calling themselves ‘Ava’ group have engaged in some criminal activities in the North recently.
The reason these groups had adopted the name ‘Ava’ was that there was a mob leader known as ‘Ava’, who was taken into custody in 2014.
South Indian movie influence
These groups are not organised underworld criminal gangs, but are attempting to copy certain criminal mobs depicted in the South Indian cinema where they control their areas through violent means and mediate in resolving disputes in a very harsh and aggressive manner. Initially these groups were used by certain insurance companies to obtain payments from customers who had defaulted on their payments, it was revealed.
Further finance companies too had obtained the services of these gangsters to force defaulters to pay up.
Daggers and swords:
These gangs use swords and daggers as their weapons and operate as motorcycle gangs.
It has come to light that these groups were behind the unrest that took place in the North subsequent to the rape and murder of a school girl named Vidya.
Similarly, subsequent to the shooting of two university students in the North, this group was responsible for the attack on two police officers in retaliation.
While such a group had operated in the North after the war ended, it is learnt that there is no connection between that group and the groups that operate in the North at present. The group that operated after the end of the war was in fact functioning under the command of a senior military officer, where they deployed them to carry out disturbances in the North for various purposes in the South, revealed police sources.
In one instance when the police had arrested such a gang, there were two military personnel in that group which confirmed police suspicion that these groups were operating under the full knowledge of the Rajapaksa regime. Prior to the War: Although the present gangs are trying to imitate and follow the earlier biker gangs, there are reports that suggest that such gangs existed even prior to the commencement of the war.
However, during the LTTE controlled period, these bike gangs as well as other groups of thugs disappeared from sight.
According to the security forces in the North, under the present day challenges faced by the North, such gangs forming is something that was anticipated.
These security analysts point out that under an environment where there are social issues such as education and unemployment, it is an arduous task to contain these gangs or prevent the formation of such groups.
There are large groups of youngsters in the North who rely and live on foreign funds sent to them from relatives overseas.
However, the police pointed out that so far they have not received any information that suggests these groups are operating on the requests of any political parties.
In January 2014, thirteen members of such gangs were arrested.
They were between the ages of 17 and 29. One of them who headed one of the gangs was known as 21-year-old Kumaresaratnam Vinothan alias ‘Ava’.
They operated in the areas of Manipai, Kopai and Chunnakam. Subsequently Senthuran and Darnrock, two other gang leaders were also arrested by the police.
Meanwhile, Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran says that having around 150,000 troops and military intelligence personnel deployed in the North, the existence of such gangs raises suspicion.