The Chennai Police on Thursday invoked the provisions of the Goondas Act to detain 17 men accused of repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl with a hearing disorder. Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan issued the order to ensure that the arrested accused will have to remain in prison for a year without bail.

As many as 22 men, including security guards, elevator operators and plumbers at an apartment complex in the city’s Purasawalkam area, had allegedly raped the child for over seven months, The Times of India reported the police as saying. The Ayanavaram all-women police had made the arrests. Five accused are still at large.

The matter came to light when the girl told her elder sister about the crime. She identified her perpetrators and told the investigators that they had threatened to release a video of her if she complained, Deccan Herald reported.

The investigation officer had recommended using the provision of the Act to prevent them from “acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”, The Hindu reported.

Their detention under The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Forest Offenders, Sand Offenders, Slum-Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982, can be revoked by a high court.

The arrested accused have been identified as Ravikumar, Rajasekar, Suresh, Erald Bross, BJ Sugumaran, Abishek, Murugesu, Paramasivam, Palani, Jayaganesh, Gunasekaran, Babu, Deenadayalan, Jayaraman, Surya, M Raja, and Umapathy. They are currently lodged at the central prison in Puzhal.

On July 17, a group of lawyers assaulted the 17 accused when they were produced at a court in Chennai. Video clips showed the lawyers assaulting the suspects at a mahila court. Chennai High Court Advocate Association President Mohana Krishnan said that “no lawyer” would argue their case, according to ANI.