TN woman's case sent to CB-CID

TN woman
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Chennai: Tightening the screws on a gang that allegedly sexually harassed and blackmailed a 19-year-old...

Chennai: Tightening the screws on a gang that allegedly sexually harassed and blackmailed a 19-year-old woman, the police on Tuesday transferred the case for probe by Crime Branch-CID and slapped Goondas Act on four of the accused.

The harassment case saw the ruling AIADMK pushed onto the backfoot as one of its local functionaries allegedly attacked the victim's brother, triggering an outrage with opposition parties latching on to it ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The AIADMK subsequently expelled the functionary who was later arrested in the assault case.

"We have transferred the Pollachi woman harassment case to the CB-CID," a top State police official told PTI.

Coimbatore District Collector Rajamani ordered detention of the accused under the Goondas Act, following recommendations by Superintendent of Police R Pandiarajan.

The four accused --Thirunavakkarasu, Sathish, Sabariraj and Vasanthkumar- lodged in a jail have already been booked under various sections of the IPC and Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.

They will now face the Goondas Act, which authorises detention up to a year. Seeking to up the ante on the issue, the DMK led a demonstration at Pollachi in Coimbatore District.

Led by its Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, the outfit's cadre, including women, demanded tough action in the case. Some women raised slogans like "Render justice," and Where is our security?

Addressing the cadre, Kanimozhi said the case and violence against the victim has brought shame and demanded action. She alleged that the same network of criminals who had harassed the woman were involved in molesting over 250 women in the past seven years. Kanimozhi lauded the victim's courage in freeing herself from the gang and later lodging a complaint.

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan met with Director General of Police T K Rajendran in Chennai and sought his intervention to ensure justice for the victim.

Haasan's party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, also took out a procession in Pollachi on Tuesday demanding justice and tough action against the perpetrators.

A leaked video of the victim, in which she could be heard screaming and opposing her assailants, led to an outrage in Tamil Nadu seeking justice for her.

Also, reports in a section of media, which claimed that the same gang had molested and blackmailed several other women, prompted political parties to demand a through probe and tough punishment for the accused.

The Communist Party of India and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam have also sought justice for the victim.

According to police, on February 12, four men allegedly tried to strip a 19-year-old woman inside a car near Pollachi in Coimbatore District and had shot a video of the act and blackmailed her using the visuals.

The victim, who managed to free herself, lodged a complaint with police on February 24. Subsequently, the victim's brother was assaulted by members of the gang and a ruling AIADMK's local level functionary was also allegedly involved in it.

Four men, including the functionary, were arrested separately for assault, police said.Besides the functionary, some in the assault case also were accused in the harassment case, they added.

DMK president M K Stalin had recently hit out at the government asking if the AIADMK was protecting the accused. "Why has there been no prompt action in the issue despite media unearthing the incident and protests held by DMK and other opposition parties?" he asked.

Leaders of other parties had also reacted sharply demanding justice.

On Monday, senior AIADMK leader Pollachi V Jayaraman had asserted that it was his party that had been demanding tough action against the accused right from day one when the harassment came to light.

After the political reaction and the emergence of a leaked video, the AIADMK expelled the functionary, a ward secretary from the primary membership of the party on Monday.

Meanwhile, CPI State secretary Mutharasan alleged that people suspected that some from the ruling party were supportive of the accused. He demanded stern measures to ensure justice for the victim and sought transfer of the case to either the CB-CID or the CBI for expeditious probe.

"The anti-social gang had been for the past six to seven years indulging in serious offences like sexual harassment against women," Mutharasan said.

Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam chief TTV Dhinakaran demanded a court monitored CBI probe to ensure justice.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India too demanded a court-monitored probe and speedy action.

An advocate, representing the victim, said police have arrested the people identified in their complaint. "We are looking forward to further action," he said.

The very reason for lodging the complaint was to create awareness that a police complaint should be lodged by victims in the unfortunate event of such harassments, he said.

He wondered why some political parties were seeking the "arrest of the accused," when they had already been arrested and placed under judicial custody.

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