The quiet and peace of the town of Pollachi has been shattered by revelations of a gang of young men who have serially harassed college girls for two years
On February 25, three young men were arrested by the Pollachi police in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. N Sabarirajan, 25, N Satish, 29 and T Vasanthakumar were charged with a number of offences – Sections 354 (A) and (B) of the Indian Penal Code which relate to “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty” and with Section 66 E of the IT Act 2000 which relates to violation of privacy of a woman. The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act was also invoked against them. The hunt is on for the first accused, K Thirunavukkarasu, 26.
The complainant was a 19-year-old girl studying at a college in Pollachi.
The FIR (First Information Report) filed on February 24 tells a gruesome tale of molestation, voyeurism and blackmail.
The young girl and Sabarirajan were friends. On February 12, Sabarirajan asked the girl to meet him during lunch hour at Unjavelampatti as he wanted to introduce his friends to her. When she arrived, he asked her to get into a Volkswagen Polo car. Trusting her friend, the girl got in and sat beside him. Satish got into the front seat, Thirunavukkarasu in the driver’s seat and Vasanthakumar sat in the rear seat with the girl and Sabarirajan. They all drove to a secluded spot near Kalpana Mill on Dharapuram road, Unjavelampatti in Pollachi.
As the car was on the move, Sabarirajan removed the girl’s top as Satish filmed the entire thing on his mobile phone. They show her the video and blackmail the girl for money and for “satisfaction”. The girl refused. But Thirunavukkarasu, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar held her hands while Satish snatched a gold chain that she was wearing. She was then forced to get out of the car.
In the coming days, she would get calls repeatedly from the accused, demanding money and blackmailing her. Finally the girl informed her parents and they lodged a complaint against the four men.
Upon further investigations, the Pollachi police have found, to their consternation, that this girl was not the only victim of the gang.
The modus operandi of this gang of four was to befriend young women belonging to wealthy families through Facebook and to get their phone numbers.
The gang had been luring gullible teenage women in a similar fashion over the past two years. They had managed to get away with the crimes since none of the victims had complained.
The brother of the victim who filed the complaint was attacked by four unidentified persons after filing the complaint.
“Three teams are on the lookout for the first accused Thirunavukkarasu,” said Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore, R Pandiarajan. “Since the girl’s brother filed a complaint against these four, their other friends have attacked the brother. The attackers have also been arrested.”
The SP added that a lot of information and evidence had been gathered from the contents of the mobile phones of the gang members. The SP added that if parents or other victims were hesitant to file complaints, they were welcome to contact him directly.
On March 04, key accused Thirunavukkarasu released a video of himself on WhatsApp stating that he was innocent and that he would face the charges against him. “Please ask the girl who has filed the complaint, I have never met her and I have not done any wrong,” he said in his video. He announced that he would return to Pollachi the next day.
On March 05 Pollachi police arrested Thirunavukkarasu and he was remanded to 15 days’ judicial custody. He has been lodged in the Coimbatore Central jail.
In the meanwhile, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has come under severe criticism, with opposition parties levelling allegations of senior leaders of the AIADMK attempting to protect the accused.
The AIADMK denied the allegations. “We are not attempting to help the accused in the case of the Pollachi student who was subjected to harassment,” said AIADMK MP Mahendran. “The AIADMK government will definitely work to ensure that the accused in the case get the noose. There are rumours being spread that the AIADMK government is actively protecting the accused. I can assure you there is no such thing,” said Pollachi MP Mahendran.
Opposition leader and President of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MK Stalin issued a statement on Monday denouncing the ruling party for allegedly shielding the perpetrators. “Sexual harassment of young women has been going on for a long time in Pollachi but hardly any progress has been made in the investigation,” said Stalin in the statement. “It is condemnable that AIADMK members are working hard to shield the criminals.”