On Wednesday, the Coimbatore Chief Judicial Magistrate court granted three days of police custody to the CB-CID, of three accused arrested in the case of the death of an alleged Sri Lankan underworld don.
Angoda Lokka, 36, a notorious don from Sri Lanka, is suspected to have been poisoned to death on July 03 in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
Three people have been arrested by the Tamil Nadu CB-CID – Sri Lankan national Amani Dhanji (32), Madurai-based lawyer Sivagama Sundari (42) and Erode-based Dhyaneshwaran (32).
“The property of Angoda Lokka is worth approximately $500 million,” Jaliya Senaratne, spokesperson for the Sri Lankan police told The Lede.
“We have shared only Angoda Lokka’s fingerprints with the Indian embassy. So far we have not received any requests from the Indian authorities for a DNA sample of Lokka. We are awaiting written confirmation from Indian authorities that the deceased is in fact Angoda Lokka. We need this confirmation in order to close the many cases that are currently open against Lokka,” he said.
Senaratne also said that blood samples had been taken from Angoda Lokka’s parents by the Lankan authorities and kept ready. These samples would be handed over to India as and when the request came through, he said.
“So far, we have not established whether the deceased by name of Pradeep Singh is Angoda Lokka or not,” K Shankar, Inspector General of the CB-CID told The Lede.
“We will be able to investigate this case further only if we get custody of the three arrested accused at the hearing on Wednesday. We have asked the Sri Lankan embassy to provide us with a sample of the DNA of Angoda Lokka. As part of the post mortem, Pradeep Singh’s organs were preserved and have been sent to the lab. Once we receive the DNA sample, we will match it with the organs and only then will we know whether the deceased is Angoda Lokka,” he said.
A Violent Don
Angoda Lokka was one of the main dons who indulged in murder, kidnapping and land grabbing and terrorised parts of Sri Lanka through these. Apart from this he was also in the business of smuggling heroin. For this he used Philippine hawks to transport the drugs. He had a large farmhouse in the island nation where he raised these birds and trained them, said Lankan authorities.
On July 30, after Lokka’s alleged death, the Lankan police caught a hawk in a chicken farm in Meegoda in the western province of Lanka. “The two chicken farm owners were alleged to be associates of Lokka and they have been arrested. Air pistols and bullets were seized from them,” said a source in Sri Lanka.
Angoda Lokka’s real name is Maddumage Lasantha Chandana Perera. He was born on 13 November 1985. He lived in Hospital Street in Angoda, Mulleriyawa.
The turn of the millennium saw the rise of Lokka as a feared and violent underworld don. He, along with his partner Makkanthure Madush, have been involved in organised crime since 2000.
Madush was a senior of sorts in crime to Angoda Lokka. He was a leading drug smuggler in Lanka between 1979 and 2002. In 2006, Madush was charged with the murder of Southern Development Authority Chairman Danny Hittetiyage. He escaped to Dubai and continued to run his illegal business in Sri Lanka until he was arrested in February 2019 in Dubai.
Along with Madush, Mohommad Najim Mohammad Imran better known as Kanjipani Imran was arrested in Dubai. They were originally partners in the drug smuggling business since the 1980s.
Imran was found in possession of 5.3 kg of marijuana in August 2019 and was sentenced to six years’ rigorous imprisonment. Additionally, he was also charged with threatening two policemen in Dubai.
Madush and Imran were extradited to Colombo a few months after their arrest in Dubai. They are suspected by Lankan authorities to have links with the LTTE.
Lokka Takes Charge
Following the arrest of both Madush and Imran, Angoda Lokka was in a position of power.
Lokka’s first murder was in April 2014 and he was arrested by the Kelaniya police in Sri Lanka. He had shot dead a rival gang member. But soon, he was released on bail. He was also involved in a murder at Wellampitiya police limit in January 2011.
One more murder case has been pegged to his name in September 2015 at the Nawagamuwa police limit.
Lokka was forced to go into hiding in 2017, when he was found to be behind a shootout of a bus transporting prisoners from jail for court hearings. His target, another underworld don by name of Aruna Udayantha Patirana aka Samayan, was killed in the shootout in Kalutara. Manjula Sanduni Abeyratne, another rival gangster, was shot dead on the same day.
With Lankan authorities hot on his tail, Lokka escaped from Colombo to Chennai by air, using a fake passport.
His arrival in India came to light in 2017 when police caught him with a consignment of drugs.
He was arrested and jailed in Puzhal prison and this is how the Tamil Nadu police have a record of Lokka’s fingerprints.
Angoda Lokka though, escaped from prison and disappeared.
But his acts of violence did not end in Sri Lanka.
On September 25, 2019 a person by name Konda Tharaka was killed by Lokka’s associates in the Hanwella police precinct. Lankan police say that Lokka had coordinated the murder via WhatsApp messages and call to his associates in Sri Lanka.
Despite a Red Corner notice being issued through Interpol by the Sri Lankan government, the Lankan police were never able to verify as to where he was hiding.
It was only on July 07 that the Tamil Nadu police began to suspect that one Pradeep Singh who had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Coimbatore, could in reality be the dreaded don.
On July 03, one Pradeep Singh was rushed from his residence in Kalapatti, Coimbatore, to a private hospital, citing cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital by a woman by name Amani Dhanji and a man by name Dhyaneshwaran.
Since he was dead on arrival, the KMCH Hospital authorities transferred the body to the Coimbatore Government General Hospital for post mortem.
“On July 04, lawyer Sivagama Sundari arrived from Madurai to the Peelamedu police station, claiming to be Pradeep Singh’s cousin,” said an officer in the police station. “For the body to be released from hospital, a case had to be filed. We took Aadhar card details of Pradeep Singh and filed a case of suspicious death. On July 05, Sivagama Sundari took the body back with her to Madurai and cremated it. It was only on July 07, when we verified the Aadhar card, that we found it was a fake,” he told The Lede.
Following this discovery, a Bangalore based online magazine published a report about the Lankan don Angoda Lokka having been found dead in Coimbatore. This started the police off on their investigations.
Their first task was to find out if the deceased was in fact Angoda Lokka. Their second task is to find out whether Lokka was poisoned or had committed suicide.
“We searched his house and found a bottle of liquor, some medicines and hospital receipts,” said a police officer who was part of the search team. “We took fingerprints from his house. The Tamil Nadu police already has his fingerprints on file during his arrest in Chennai in 2017. We are awaiting the fingerprints of Lokka from Sri Lanka and we will match all three to confirm his identity,” said the officer.
It was only after the search of his house that the police realised that the post mortem of Pradeep Singh had shown bluish tinge in his extremities – his fingers and toes. This, they say, could be indicative of poisoning.
On August 02, the CB-CID arrested three persons in connection with the death of Pradeep Singh.
They were booked under Sections 120B (party to criminal conspiracy), 177 (wilfully misinforming of murder as accident), 182 (providing false information to public servants), 202 (knowingly hides an offence), 212 (harbouring an offender), 417 (punishment for cheating), 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 466 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 471 (knowingly using a forged document as original) IPC.
What Did Lokka Do In Tamil Nadu?
Angoda Lokka stayed in Bengaluru and Madurai for a few years since his arrival in 2017 before moving to Coimbatore. He stayed in Saravanampatti for three years before moving to Balaji Nagar in Cheranmanagar in Coimbatore.
“After escaping, he reached Bengaluru with fake documents and got the help of a lawyer T Sivagama Sundari of Madurai. She was contacted by her associate in Dubai and was asked to help him. She helped him stay in Madurai for three months,” an officer privy to the investigation told The Lede.
Before finding him a place to stay, lawyer Sivagama Sundari approached another lawyer friend of hers to get a fake Aadhar card and other documents for Lokka.
The lawyer who helped her with the documents is Dhyaneshwaran based in Erode.
Lokka became Pradeep Singh.
With Dhyaneshwaran’s help, Sivagama Sundari found him a place in Saravanampatti and Lokka stayed there, according to the police.
Enter Amani Dhanji.
“We suspect that Amani Dhanji is the wife of a rival gang leader killed by Angoda Lokka,” said an investigating officer. “There is suspicion that she may have come to India with intent to poison Lokka and avenge her husband’s death.”
“Amani Dhanji has visited Coimbatore thrice – the first time when Lokka was living in Saravanampatti. She met him and left. The second visit was when Lokka was in Madurai. The third visit was in April, during the lockdown. She stayed here for three months,” said the officer.
It was during this visit that Dhyaneshwaran stepped in once again to help find a house to rent for Angoda Lokka and Amani Dhanji in Cheranmanagar in Coimbatore.
“Dhyaneshwaran told the house owners that the two were originally residents of Dubai but were stuck here due to the lockdown. He requested the owners to accommodate them. The owners agreed and the duo moved to the new house,” explained the officer.
Police say that Angoda Lokka had claimed to be a supplier of food supplements in Coimbatore.
“We have seen Lokka only when he went to buy milk and a newspaper in the morning and when he came out at night to empty the garbage,” said a neighbour who did not wish to be named.
“He would come alone on a Bullet motorbike to our gym at around 8 pm every night. Even if the gym was crowded he would not speak with anyone,” said the owner of the gym who preferred anonymity.
Lokka preferred a hotel in the adjacent street. “He would order only parotta and a non-veg side dish,” said an employee at the hotel.
On August 02, after the three suspects were arrested, Amani Dhanji, according to police sources, told a woman constable that she was two months pregnant and that she had consumed pills to terminate the pregnancy.
“Due to excessive bleeding, she was admitted. She had taken excessive pills to terminate the pregnancy,” government hospital sources told The Lede.
“We have seized a lot of dollars and gold from Amani Dhanji,” said G Stalin, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Crime, Coimbatore.
Around the time that Amani Dhanji entered Lokka’s life, he had undergone rhinoplasty to alter the shape of his nose at Balaji Nursing Home in RS Puram, Coimbatore.
“We have got records of the plastic surgery procedure undergone by the deceased and this is one of the reasons we wish to take custody of the accused,” confirmed the CB-CID counsel in court.
“We have recovered Rs 1.4 lakh in cash from the residence of Dhyaneshwaran. We have also found transactions worth crores of rupees in Sivagama Sundari’s bank account. We have seized the bank passbook from her Madurai residence which shows the details of these transactions,” said the CB-CID counsel in court.
“The next step in the investigation is to take the accused to Tirupur, Coimbatore and Madurai and get more evidence from them,” said the CB-CID counsel in court.
With just three days of custody, the authorities will need to race ahead of time to complete their investigations.