Pollachi, a small town in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, is in news for wrong reasons these days, because of a shocking case of sexual harassment and extortion.
The Madras High Court on Saturday directed the AIADMK government to pay Rs 25 lakh to the victim, as an interim compensation, in the case. The Madurai Bench of the court’s direction came in response to the complaint that the police had revealed the identity of the victim.
If you are wondering what is this case all about, here is a brief account of how it has unfolded over the past month.
On February 12 a college girl from this town gets a call from her friend Sabarirajan aka Riswandh, asking her to meet him alone as he has something important to discuss. The meeting point was a bus stop in the pollochi town.
The girl reaches the venue only to find Sabarirajan and his friend Thirunavukkarasu, who is also known to her, beside a car. They tell her that they would have the discussion in the car.
All the three get into car – Thirunavukkarasu behind the wheel and Sabarirajan on the rear seat with the girl.
As the car started two more men get in. The men, then pounce on her and start removing her clothes while one of them click the video. They also take her gold chain. They, then, threaten her that they would put out the video on the internet if she doesn’t agree for sexual favours or give them money whenever they ask for it.
The girl continues screaming in protest. So, they dump her on middle of road and drive away.
Apprehensive about her parents’ reaction, she keeps quiet at home. But soon the men begin extorting money from her. After succumbing to their demand a few times, she decides to reveal the truth to her family.
Her enraged brother, then, catches hold of Sabarirajan and Thirunavukkarasu and thrash them. He snatches their phones as he wanted to delete the video of his sister. To his shock, he discovers the videos of three other women.
The girl’s family files a police complaint and submits the videos. The police unearth a racket of sexual harassment and extortion. An FIR follows on February 24 against Sabarirajan, Thirunavukkarasu, Sathish and Vasanthkumar under various sections of IPC –section 354A for sexual harassment, 354B for assault or use of criminal force against woman with intent to disrobe, 394 for robbery – and section 66E of the IT Act for violation of privacy.
Sabarirajan is a civil engineer while Thirunavukkarasu is a financier. Sathish runs a readymade garments shop in Pollachi, and Vasanthakumar works as an assistant to Thirunavukkarasu.
Upon investigation, Police discovers the involvement of more men in the racket and included the name of an AIADMK functionary, ‘Bar’ Nagaraj, in the FIR. The party has since expelled him.
Here is when politics has taken over the case. Now all the five men are out on bail, but the case has become a raging campaign issue. Videos of victims are making round on social media platforms. Speculations are high on the number of victims, putting the figure between 50 and 200.
With the involvement of the AIADMK functionary, The DMK has already announced that it is a poll issue for them in the upcoming elections. There are also attempts to drag in more important persons from the AIDAMK. For instance, Tamil Magazine Nakkheeran’s editor Nakkheeran Gopal has alleged that Tamil Nadu Deputy Speaker Pollachi Jayaraman’s son is involved in the racket. But he is yet to provide evidence for his claim.
To the contrary, a video statement of the victim and her brother claims that Jayaraman is the one who has been helping them fight the case.
The case got bigger when students held a protest three days ago. Now, traders are planning to shut shops and take out a rally on March 19, demanding a court-monitored CBI probe. One can only wait and watch to see how Pollachi episode will play out on the electoral prospects of the parties.