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Pollachi sexual abuse – befriending on Facebook – 60 women become victims of gang

By Florine Roche

Mangaluru, Mar 14: The Pollachi sexual abuse and extortion incident has shocked the entire nation and it has caused a political uproar in Tamil Nadu. The police have arrested all the four men involved in the incident following a complaint lodged by a 19-year old college girl from Coimbatore district, who is one of the victims. All the four accused were arrested under Goonda Act.

Following this complaint it has come to light that the gang of four has sexually harassed and blackmailed several women over a period of two years befriending them on social media and then abusing them. The police have seized the mobile phones from the four accused Thirunavakkarasu, Sathish, Sabariraj and Vasanthkumar and it has come to light that the mobile phones had more than 50 video clips of women being sexually abused by the gang.

The incident has caused massive outrage among the people of Tamil Nadu who are demanding justice to the victims and severe punishment to the perpetrators of the crime. Thousands of college students in and around Pollachi and other parts of Tamil Nadu were out in the street on Wednesday protesting against the sexual crimes and demanding fair investigations. They even clashed with the police who tried to disperse or detain them. The outrage compelled the state government handover the case to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

There is more to the uproar and tremors the incident is causing in Tamil Nadu, coming as it is at a time when the country is getting ready for general elections and the alleged AIADMK local functionary’s involvement in the incident has given a political overtone to it. The opposition has accused the ruling AIADMK of protecting the culprits as one of its office bearers, A Nagaraj is one of the accused in the case. He is accused of allegedly threatening the brother of the 19-year-old woman who mustered courage to file a complaint with the police. The AIADMK functionary has since been expelled from the party and from all posts including that of primary membership for his conduct that brought disrespect to the party. The prime accused Thirunavukkarasu has also claimed the involvement of politically influential people in the incident. Whether he told it just to hoodwink the police and the public or whether there is any truth in his statement remains to be seen.

The opposition DMK has alleged that some people who are close to deputy speaker and AIADMK MLA V Jayaraman are involved in the shameful incident thus putting the ruling AIADMK on the defensive.

What is it all about?

The sexual harassment and blackmail incident came to light in Pollachi as the victim, a teenage college girl filed a FIR in Pollachi police station alleging sexual harassment and blackmail by a gang of four men.   She had filed the case on February 24, 2019. According to the complaint, Sabarirajan whom the girl (victim) had befriended on Facebook asked her to meet at a bus stop in Pollachi on the pretext of discussing some urgent matter on February 12. Sabarirajan was soon joined by another friend Thirunavukkarasu and before knowing what was happening, the girl was in a car where two more men Sathish and Vasanth Kumar joined them. The four men began to sexually abuse by disrobing her and shot video in addition to snatching her gold chain. The men threatened her that they would upload the video in the social media if she fails to provide sexual favours and money as and when they demand. When the girl screamed and shouted they dumped her in the middle of the road and drove away.

Scared that it might bring disrepute to her family the girl did not reveal the incident to her parents. However, when the gang began to blackmail and tried to extort money, she took her family into confidence. Her brother along with his friend tracked two culprits Thirunavukkarusu and Sabarirajan and when they confiscated their cell phones of the duo, they were stunned to see videos of sexual harassment of   other women whom the gang might have blackmailed.   Based on the evidence they collected, the family filed a FIR of sexual harassment in Pollachi police station along with the evidence. The police registered a case against the 4 accused under various sections of IPC and Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act. The Coimbatore police have now invoked the provisions of Goonda Act against the accused. As per the act a person booked under it may be detained without bail for a period which may extend up to one year.

The four accused

All the four accused in the Pollachi sexual harassment case belong to middle class families and according to police they were habitual offenders. The police also suspect that the college girl is not their first or only victim.   The four accused are Sabarirajan alias Riswandh (25) who is a civil engineer, Thirunavukkarasu (26) a financier, Vasanthkumar who works for Thirunavukkarusu as money collector and Sathish, who is the owner of a readymade garment shop in Pollachi.

Following the police complaint the brother of the girl who had confronted Sabarirajan and Thirunavukkarasu, was assaulted by a gang of four (friends of the duo) on February 25, a day after the FIR was filed.   They even threatened him saying he will not be alive if something happened to the accused. After the involvement of AIADMK functionary ‘Bar’ Nagaraj in the assault case on the girl’s brother came out in the open, the police added his name in the complaint. All these five men are now out of bail.

Based on the mobile phones collected from the accused it has come to light that the gang of four ran a huge racket and that there may be several other men who might be part of the gang. It is also said that involvement of some political bigwigs cannot be ruled out. Police are now trying to broaden their investigation to zero in on the perpetrators of the crime.   Though they have asked the victims to come forward and file case against them, so far none has come forward to file any complaint. When the police went to the home of one of the victims after finding her video in the mobile of the accused, the family refused to speak to the police.

As per available information more than 60 women might have been victims of the racket while some media reports put it at about 200. The police have handed over the phones to the forensic department as the accused have deleted some videos which the police now want the department to retrieve.

Harassment and blackmail

Based on the information revealed by the accused their modus operandi was simple. Sabariraajan alias Riswandh would lure women and invite them to meet in a particular place and then convince them to have sex or force himself on them. When he was in the sexual act his accomplices would shoot the video clandestinely. If the sexual act was consensus they would later upload the video and then harass them for sexual favours and also money. If the sexual act was not consensus one of his accomplices would barge in acting as savior while others would continue to shoot. These videos were later used to blackmail the victims both for sexual favours and for money.

Finally it was the courage of the 19-year-old college girl to file a complaint that resulted in exposing the sexual harassment, a crime against women. If not for her boldness many other young girls might have fallen victims to their sexual orgy. It is really unfortunate that some of the videos of the victims are being circulated in WhatsApp groups. The police also have shown insensitivity by revealing the name of the one of the victims. The DMK says the police did it intentionally to prevent other victims from coming forward to file complaints.  

Latest news

It has now come to light that another victim has filed a former complaint with fresh allegations. The woman who spoke to a Tamil news channel also revealed that other victims had contacted her but they are unwilling to file a formal complaint. There is a twist in the story because according to the woman, her tormentor is not from among the four accused who are arrested so far. It means that more names of the people are involved in the horrifying sexual abuse of women.

It is saddening to note that an issue as sensitive as sexual harassment and blackmail of women has acquired a political connotation. This is a crime against women and against humanity and it has to be fought with united efforts.   It is certainly not an issue to score political brawny points.

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Comment on this article

  • Rita, Germany

    Fri, Mar 15 2019

    Embarassing.Is whole India now a raping institute?and we say India is a cultural land?And these same men want a girl to marry a virgin?These men should be given hard punishment without any case ,bail-They should also pay to these girls a compansation too .not a small amount.They collected from girls too money over that.Dont save long.Atleast let other girls be safe from their hands.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Azeez Vittal, Dubai

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Social media is becoming more harmful than ever before as it is gaining more popularity and accessabilty.The teen age girls can easily fall prey to these perpetrators.We should try to monitor our childrens activity on these social media sites as we cannot resist them from using it.

    DisAgree [1] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Mahathma, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Please break their knuckles!!! don't spare them any more

    DisAgree Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anil, MP

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    No moustache... But beard is der.....
    In Ullal also this type of gang was active...
    Beard without moustache......

    DisAgree [14] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • avani, mlore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Really worrying sentence in the whole report is "all the four are out on bail!" How easy? Our justice system is root cause of all these crimes.

    DisAgree Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Siddharth D Souza, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    All the four are inside. The one who out on bail are those who attacked the victim girls brother.

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Arif, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    PAPISTAN minded terrorist ...

    DisAgree [2] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Santan Mascarenhas, Kinnigoli/Mumbai

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Although there is rampant unemployment in the country, these people except that Civil Engineer are on job and business. They do this, because they are devils, beasts, rogues and lucifers, who should be given 3rd degree treatment, before taking to court. Please note, this should be for such people of any religion.

    DisAgree Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • jones, manipal

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Very sad incidents. Country should become one and fight against these oppression.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Madhur, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Shame on this gang - they need severest punishment.
    Read some of the comments saying this is because unemployment, if you read properly one is civil engineer, ohter financier, one works as money collector and one more owns a readymade garment shop.
    They are not unemployed but behind easy money by extortion and blackmail from gullible women. Actually, by looking at the snaps one can makeout them to be ricebag converts / perverts who are ruining the social fabric of TN.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • gm, mlur

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Unemployment problem? Punish them at the earliest.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [42] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai ...

    DisAgree [28] Agree [47] Reply Report Abuse

  • sks, Udupi

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Can you please , please, please change your cassette. You are making readers sick. Please write some thing new.

    DisAgree [28] Agree [64] Reply Report Abuse

  • Narendra Kumar, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    @SKS...Why it is hurting you so badly? Sach kadwa hota is because of unemploynent, our youth turning into "Pakoda Economics" Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Amith Shah played a big game frim ladst five years with the youth and farmers who are distressed and directionless!

    DisAgree [25] Agree [40] Reply Report Abuse

  • D.Shetty, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    So from 2014 india had unemployment and until then all had jobs..just for sake of comments dont write..
    In recent survey the failure is unemployment is our graduates are unfit to job, they are not worth to basics of study and how would any company heir someone who is incapable.. over years only education intuition came up not the Quality of education and we should be lucky being mangalorean to have quality intuitions

    DisAgree [11] Agree [18] Report Abuse

  • Ramya, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    I Agree with SKS.......
    From 70 years nothing changed and people like Jossey expecting it to change everything in 5 years...

    DisAgree [19] Agree [13] Report Abuse

  • VJ, udupi

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    sks, udupi
    Agree with u.

    DisAgree [13] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nas, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 14 2019

    Actually these type people Terrorists more pakistan high commission delhi protest requesting arrest haffez saeed

    DisAgree [10] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

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