As per reports, on February 12 this year, a 19-year-old college girl was called upon by her acquaintance, Sabariranjan under the pretext of discussing something important with her alone. Once she reached, Sabariranjan aka Riswandh and another one of her acquaintance, Thirunavukkarasu asked her to get inside a car so they could ‘talk on their way’. As soon as she sat, two more men, Sathish and Vasanthkumar, got inside the car and forcefully disrobed her. They recorded a video of her, snatched her gold chain and threatened her that if she does not do as they ask her to do and provide them with sexual favours and money when demanded, they will leak the video on the Internet. When she screamed for help, they left her in the middle of the road and drove away.
While she did not tell anyone about the incident for a few days, when the culprits tried to blackmail and extort money from her multiple times, she informed her family.
Her brother then tracked down Thirunavukkarasu and Sabariranjan and ended up unearthing one of the most elaborate sex extortion rackets. The girl’s brother and his friends got hold of Sabariranjan and Thirunuvukkarasu’s cell phones and found videos of at least three other women these men had blackmailed. A complaint of sexual harassment and robbery was registered at the Pollachi Police Station.
On February 24, a police complaint was filed against the four accused. Soon enough, widespread protests broke across Tamil Nadu demanding action against Pollachi sexual predators. The AIADMK government accused the opposition of sheltering the culprits and has moved to transfer the case to CBI. The DGP had reportedly approached the CBI and begun transferring the case to the central agency.
As per The News Minute report, the four accused are part of a larger group running a massive racket. One of the accused, usually Sabariranjan, would lure women to a secluded house or a hotel and either convince them to have sex with them or rape them. The entire scene would be recorded by his accomplices who would be hiding nearby. If it was a sexual assault, one of the accomplices would pretend to be a saviour and barge into the room, trying to save the girl. The other men would continue to shoot. In one of the videos, one of the women could be heard naming Sabarranjan, while Thirunavukkarasu can be clearly seen in another. In another such video, another accused, Sathish, could be seen in a sexual act where the door has been kept open for his friends to shoot. As per the report, in another video, Sabariranjan could be heard coaxing the woman to meet again the next day.
According to the police, such videos were then used for blackmail and extortion. In case the act was consensual, the woman would be threatened that the video would be uploaded on social networking sites like WhatsApp unless she agreed to sexual favours and/or money. In all the videos, the doors of the rooms were kept open for the accomplices to record the act.
Reports suggest there could be as many as 50 to 200 victims in the racket and six videos have been leaked till now.
Meanwhile, the victim’s brother, who found the accused, was assaulted on February 25, a day after the FIR was filed. Senthil, Babu, Mani and Vasanthakumar, friends of Sabariranjan, beat up the victim’s brother for filing a complaint and gave him death threats. Another FIR has thus been filed in this case too. A fifth suspect, ‘Bar’ Nagraj an AIADMK functionary was also named in the FIR. He has now been suspended from the party.
Unfortunately, the shocking case of sexual assault and blackmail took political turns when AIADMK got criticised for Nagraj’s alleged involvement.
The survivor’s brother, too, released a video, condemning politicisation of the case due to Lok Sabha elections. DMK MP Kanimozhi, tried to dismiss this by saying that while nobody wants to politicise the case, “but if the government acts only after the matter becomes politicised, then what else can be done?”
A Tamil Magazine’s editor, Nakkheeran Gopal, in a video, without evidence, alleged that Tamil Nadu Deputy Speaker Pollachi Jayaraman’s sons were involved in the racket. Nakkheeran Gopal’s magazine was also the one to release video of the sexual assault on its website.
While Jayaraman has denied the allegations, the survivor and her brother, both have come out in support of Jayaraman and said that it was he who had been supportive from the very beginning. She had her family had approached Jayaraman through a family friend and he has been very helpful in taking the case forward.
The Pollachi Superintendent of Police Pandiarajan also revealed the name of the survivor in a press meet, which is against the law. The videos of the assault are also making rounds on WhatsApp. The videos were on four phones, two of which were retrieved by the victim’s brother and two were seized by the police.
On Thursday, lakhs of women across Tamil Nadu took to streets to register a protest against the molestation and subsequent blackmail racket. The CBI is now looking into the case.