Pollachi/Chennai: The Pollachi rape-cum-blackmail case has snowballed into a major issue as authorities, fearing violence following surfacing of scandalous details, declared holidays in local colleges on Thursday, a day after the Tamil Nadu government gave its nod for a CBI probe.
The Madras High Court on Thursday rejected a plea for a special investigation team probe, saying the Central Bureau of Investigation has already been told to probe the case.
The CBI will investigate the two cases which were originally registered at the Pollachi East Police Station, Coimbatore district, last month.
On Wednesday scores of students, lawyers and members of women's organisations took to the streets demanding action against the accused. Students boycotted classes and staged sit-ins demanding stringent punishment.
Advocates practising in Coimbatore staged a demonstration outside the court complex seeking an inquiry committee with a woman judge of the Madras High Court as its head to probe the case.
The district administration ordered closure of colleges in the town, 535 km from the state capital, to prevent a repeat of Wednesday's protest by students demanding action against the culprits -- Thirunavukkarasu, Sabarirajan, Vasanthakumar, Satish -- now in custody and also others who are still out.
For days rumours and video clips have been doing the rounds as to how scores of women from college teachers, students, even working professionals and others were sexually assaulted, harassed and blackmailed by the gang.
Students of Sri GVG Visalakshi College for Women in nearby Udumalaipettai protested on Thursday hit the streets shouting 'We want justice.' "The culprits should be tortured. The culprits should be given the harshest punishment," said a student.
The students are demanding the arrest of three more persons allegedly involved in the crime.
MDMK leader Vaiko told reporters in Chennai that the Madras High Court should have taken cognisance of the crime.
Expelled AIADMK member A.Nagaraj who was arrested and let out on bail for attacking the brother of a girl who had complained to the police, told reporters in Coimbatore: "I am not in hiding. I want to clarify that I am not in the video that started circulating sometime back."
Videos have also emerged that apparently show that the victims were lured to secluded spots and molested, filmed in the process, and blackmailed for money.
On Wednesday, the Madras High Court had rapped the media over coverage of the crime.
Meanwhile, cricketer Ashwin Ravichandran, who has been following the case closely has lamented on the social media: "I would like to reiterate and say 'change is inevitable' but remember we need to be the change and initiate it rather than sit back and complain about authorities or lack of justice."
On Thursday, the cricketer vented his anger on twitter: "Protests in Pollachi?? Can anyone tell me what's happening there right now??"
The AIADMK government decided to hand over the investigation to the CBI, soon after the probe was transferred to the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) from the Coimbatore police, said an official.
The government's move came as the probe involves analysis of mobile phones, social media posts of the four accused and the affected women.