COIMBATORE: Days after a four-member gang was arrested for sexually harassing a 19-year-old girl near Pollachi, a second victim of the gang has been identified. It is suspected that they assaulted more than 50 women over a period of seven years. The gang allegedly recorded videos of the assault and used it to silence victims and extort money from them.
The Coimbatore district police on Monday recovered four such videos recorded by the accused. Speaking to the media, police superintendent R Pandiyarajan said that a new victim had been identified from the videos. “Unless the woman, who is married, comes forward to lodge a complaint, we can do nothing,” he said.
“Many other videos could have been erased, we are trying to recover all of them.” The SP said that he had ordered a reinvestigation of suicides of young girls in the last 2 years.. The police have also made a public call to victims to come forward and report the crime. “If you are not comfortable with the police, you can approach the magistrate,” said Pollachi DSP K Jayaraman.
The issue, meanwhile, has snowballed into a major political slugfest, with names of several prominent politicians being dragged into the case. The opposition accused the government of neglecting safety of women.
This after AIADMK expelled its youth wing member A Nagaraj for threatening the brother of the victim. Deputy Speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman held a press meet in Chennai to deny his involvement. “Opposition parties are trying to project me in the wrong light for political gains. The victim will soon reveal the truth,” he said, adding that he met the DGP to discuss the case.
Political slugfest over sex abuse case
Police suspect that close to 50 young women from across Tamil Nadu could have been lured through Facebook and sexually harassed by the four-member gang from Pollachi. On Monday, the police said they were taking steps to book all the four accused under the controversial Goondas Act. The issue first came to light on February 24, when a 19-year-old girl lodged a complaint with Pollachi East Station police, alleging that her friends took her in a car and sexually harassed her and robbed her gold chain. All the four accused were arrested. In a separate case, four others – T Senthil (25), P Babu (26), K Vasanthakumar (20), R Manivannan and AIADMK functionary A Nagaraj (28) – were arrested for assaulting the brother of the victim.
Nagaraj was the 34th ward Amma Peravai secretary in Pollachi. The issue spiralled into a major political controversy on Monday with DMK president MK Stalin accusing the ruling party, on Twitter, of trying to protect the accused in the case. Soon, the hashtag #arrestpollachirapists started trending on social media.
Apart from DMK, BJP's Tamilisai Soundararajan, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan and PMK chief S Ramadoss also condemned the incident and demanded speedy investigation in the case.
DMK MP Kanimozhi is scheduled to lead a protest in Pollachi on Tuesday afternoon. The Coimbatore SP, however, has said that permission would not be given for any protest over the issue. He also warned of action against anyone circulating video clips of the assault.
The police department, however, came under attack for revealing the name of the victim who had approached them. "Because of their failure, they identified the victim's brother and threatened him. The police is playing a dual role in this case," alleged DMK town secretary Thendral Selvaraj. "Police revealing the name might have created fear among other victims. Nobody will come forward to lodge a complain now and the case will get diluted," said DPDK Pollachi functionary R Manoharan.