Highway Robbers Target TN-Kerala Border on NH 544, Authorities Step Up Vigilance

A group of armed men attacking a Kerala-bound car near Madukkarai on the Salem – Kochi Highway.
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The stretch of NH 544 between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, particularly from Walayar to Neelambur, has become a notorious hotspot for highway robberies and carjackings. The latest incident occurred near Madukkarai in Coimbatore district, where armed assailants targeted a car bound for Kerala in the early hours of June 14, highlighting ongoing security concerns along this crucial route.

According to police reports, this area has been a favored hunting ground for criminal gangs targeting businessmen, families, and individuals transporting cash, including hawala transactions. Many victims choose not to report such incidents, often due to the nature of their activities.

“These gangs operate similarly to the ‘pottikkal’ gangs in Kerala, known for targeting smuggled goods and hawala money,” remarked a police officer familiar with the region. Previous cases include a dramatic incident in December 2020, when assailants attacked a businessman near Navakkarai, initially making off with a vehicle purportedly carrying ₹27.5 lakh. Subsequent investigation uncovered ₹90 lakh hidden in concealed compartments, leading to arrests.

In another harrowing incident in 2018, a gang intercepted a family near Ettimadai bridge, threatening them with weapons and robbing them of valuables and cash.

Law enforcement efforts have yielded some success. In response to the recent surge in criminal activity, Coimbatore District Superintendent of Police V. Badrinarayanan confirmed increased patrols along the vulnerable stretch, doubling the number of highway patrol vehicles to four between Neelambur and Walayar.

The latest incident near Madukkarai toll plaza involved Ernakulam resident Aslam Siddique and his companions, returning from Bengaluru when they were ambushed. Siddique’s quick thinking helped evade potential disaster, although the assailants managed to flee the scene initially. Following intensive efforts, including the arrest of four Palakkad-based suspects, including former Indian Army personnel, police are pursuing leads to apprehend other involved parties.

“We are actively monitoring the situation and remain vigilant to prevent such incidents in the future,” stated Superintendent Badrinarayanan, underscoring ongoing efforts to safeguard travelers along this critical interstate highway.

As authorities continue their efforts to maintain security and public safety, the incidents serve as a stark reminder of the challenges posed by organized crime and the importance of robust law enforcement measures in protecting commuters and travelers on our highways.

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