Pollachi sex scandal rocks Tamil Nadu

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 15, 2019 17:29 hrs
Pollachi rape case

An extortion racket involving a four-member gang and the dozens of women they sexually assaulted and blackmailed has been unearthed in Tamil Nadu. Dozens of women were befriended on Facebook and then lured by the gang and sexually assaulted. The men would film these incidents and then resort to blackmailing the victims to not report the incident otherwise threatening to release the video online.

The members of the gang have been arrested after a complaint was filed by a 19-year-old girl who came forward and told her story of the incident. A police officer involved in the investigation said in part, “They harassed women in moving vehicles, hotels and even a farmhouse near Anamalai forest. The victims are from Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem and many parts of Tamil Nadu.”

The case has sparked outrage among politicians in Tamil Nadu after there were suspicions of a political link to the case. A local member of the legislative assembly V Jayaraman denied any links to the case. It came in response to reports that his son was allegedly involved in the crime network which included the gang in question regarding this case. Jayaraman while mounting his defence accused the opposition DMK of a conspiracy saying in part, “The instigator behind all this is MK Stalin's son-in-law Sabareesan. I want to state with certainty that neither me nor my family are involved in this in any way.”

Meanwhile, the AIADMK has removed A Nagaraj, a person who is accused int he case, from the party for anti-party activities. He was arrested after threatening and assaulting the brother of one of the victims who came forward. In a report in Vikatan, Coimbatore District Superintendent Pandiarajan is quoted as saying there isn’t another political or any large-scale political connection in this case. Based on the initial stages of the investigation, the police believe that these suspects have been doing this for a few years at least. This, after the suspects’ phones were confiscated.

The DMK and MDMK have called for a CBI probe. The party’s respective leaders MK Stalin and Vaiko threatened protests if the government and police did not take the necessary action. Stalin accused the ruling party of trying to influence the police probe in this case. DMK MP Kanimozhi is scheduled to lead a protest in Pollachi. Last week, the Tamil Nadu chapter of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) held a protest at Pollachi demanding a CB-CID investigation.

A report in Vikatan regarding this case, revealed that this case is bigger in scope than initially thought. The report states that there may be 20 people involved in this network who lure and extort women through social media. It details how the men used Facebook to befriend women and gain their trust over a period of time and then convince them to an in-person meeting. The report states –

They ride expensive cars and bikes and wear high-end clothing. They prey on young girls who are active on social media and communicate with them share personal details about themselves and begin to ask questions of the women.”

The men would then proceed to rape and sexually assault the women, record them and proceed to extort them if they were revealed. The four men arrested so far have been booked for sexual harassment, assault, and 66(E) of the IT Act and Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act. However, no rape charges were booked.

The police so far, have not spoken of any far-reaching political connections with the case, though that hasn’t stopped people from speculating that political implications might exist. The District Superintendent Pandiarajan also stated that there at least a dozen more men involved as the investigation into the case continues. A brother of one of the victims urged people not to spread rumours about any political parties or about the case as Maalaimalar reported.

From the initial reporting, its clear that there is more to this case than initially thought. The reach of the men involved in this is far wider than just the four who were arrested. Independent journalist Kavitha Muralidharan writes for The Wire on stigma around victims of sexual assault and the implications for the case in Pollachi –

The Pollachi case is a telling reminder of a larger social problem: the dangers to women of even making a complaint. “The stigma is unimaginable” said Kavitha Gajendran, an activist in Chennai. “came across a post on social media in which a man says he will not marry someone from Pollachi. I was shocked.

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