THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is part of Thiruvananthapuram’s underworld lore, albeit among a select group. The story about how Sabu alias Gundukadu Sabu, the son of a police constable, became a dreaded goonda. And Sabu’s tale bears an uncanny resemblance to the themes depicted in popular movies, where innocent young men often turn into notorious criminals, forced as they were by social circumstances.Incidentally, Dawood Ibrahim Haskar, the fugitive Mumbai underworld don, currently said to be based in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, too was the son of a Mumbai police constable.In Sabu’s case, his elder brother Shaji alias Gundukadu Shaji was engaged in criminal activities, which inevitably culminated in his violent death. Almost a decade ago, Shaji was hacked to death by a rival gang led by another ganglord Vayaran Selvan at Manacaud near the capital’s East Fort area. And Sabu, who was a vibrant youngster then, was forced to become part of his brother’s gang for the ‘sake of existence,’ as he himself puts it.In due course, he became the gang leader and added around 40 cases to his ‘credit, of which only six exist now. “I have ceased (to be part of the) criminal activities for the past five years but have fear of being attacked by somebody since the outcome of rivalry among criminal groups may take any form,” said Sabu at his house in Gundukadu colony. An alumnus of the city’s University College and a graduate, Sabu is now focusing his energy on other activities and is also an active member of the Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha.But it is the story of Thammanam Shaji, formerly a byword for goondaism in Kochi, which comes across as the most stunning instance of a youngster metamorphosing into an underworld don. The son of a casual labourer at Thammanam in Ernakulam, Shaji ( whose real name is Shajahan) was the uncrowned king of criminal activities in Kochi from the ‘90s up till 2000.By the age of 20, he had moulded himself into a criminal, having cases registered against him in the city’s various police stations. He did everything which was expected of a normal ‘history sheeter’ -- ‘helping’ political parties and local finaciers, carrying out ‘quotations’ (contract jobs) and running illegal massage parlours etc.