Tamil Nadu administrative officer, who took on sand mafia, dies after being attacked in office

Francis had been informing Revenue Department officials and the police about illegal sand mining and transportation of sand by smugglers.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Apr 25, 2023 | 9:09 PM Updated Apr 25, 2023 | 9:11 PM

Tamil Nadu administrative officer, who took on sand mafia, dies after being attacked in office

A Village Administrative Officer (VAO) was brutally murdered — allegedly by the sand mafia — at his office in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, 25 April for complaining about illegal sand mining

VAO Lourdhu Francis (Supplied)

According to the police, Lourdhu Francis (56) was working as the VAO of Murappanadu, a revenue village located on the banks of river Thamirabharani on the Thoothukudi- Palayamkottai Highway.

Francis had been informing the higher officials of the Revenue Department and the police on illegal sand mining and transportation of sand by smugglers.

A few weeks ago, the police seized illegally mined sand and also registered cases against the miners based on inputs from Francis.

The incident

Around 12.30 pm on Tuesday, two unidentified persons reportedly came to the VAO’s office.

The duo entered into an altercation with Francis, hacked him with sickles, and left the VAO in a pool of blood. He was said to have sustained injuries on his skull and neck.

People nearby rushed to the office and took the injured VAO to the Tirunelveli Government Medical College Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The Murappanaadu police registered a case. District Superintendent of Police L Balaji Saravanan visited the spot and initiated an inquiry. Two special teams were formed to nab the suspects.

Collector K Senthil Raj condoling the family of the deceased VAO

Meanwhile, the police arrested an illicit sand miner, Ramasubramanian in connection with the murder near Kaliyaavur.

The police are currently searching for one Marimuthu, an associate of Ramasubramanian, who is absconding.

Meanwhile, district collector K Senthil Raj visited the hospital where the body of Francis has been kept, and condoled his family.

He also assured prompt action against the sand mafia who killed the VAO.

The district collector and other revenue officials hailed the braveness of the deceased VAO while condoling his family.

The family of VAO informed the collector that weeks ago, Francis sought police protection for himself and his family following the threats he received from the sand mafia, but the police refused to provide security.

Also read: Kerala environmentalist ends life fighting for Western Ghats

Stalin steps in

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced a solatium of ₹1 crore from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund for Francis’ family.

Condoling the death and assuring action against the culprits, Stalin said that one person from the VAO’s family would be given a government job.

Francis, while working as a VAO in Adichanallur, which is an excavation site, recovered a piece of government poramboke land that was encroached on by a few miscreants.

The land was said to be earmarked by the government to set up a museum to display artefacts taken from a burial site.

Subsequently, a murder attempt was made on the officer by the persons who encroached on the land. The accused were subsequently detained under Goondas Act.

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