Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi on Tuesday criticised the state police for disclosing the name of a 19-year-old college student in Tamil Nadu’s Pollachi town who had filed a complaint against four men for sexual harassment, The News Minute reported. The complaint brought to light the Pollachi serial sexual assault and blackmail case.
At a rally organised by the party’s district unit in Pollachi, Kanimozhi said the law strictly prohibits revealing the identity of those who have been sexually assaulted. “The name of the survivor in this case was revealed only to silence the other women and prevent them from coming out in the open and complaining,” she said.
Four men – N Satish, N Sabarirajan, T Vasanthakumar and K Thirunavukkarasu – were arrested in Pollachi over the last fortnight in connection with the case. Coimbatore District Collector K Rajamani on Tuesday ordered their detention under the Goondas Act. They have already been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act. The charges under the Goondas Act allows for their detention up to a year.
Kanimozhi said that party functionaries of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were involved in the case and the police had failed to take action against them. “We don’t know whom the police is trying to protect by underplaying the issue and arresting only four men,” she said.
In a petition to the Coimbatore District Collector, the complainant sought that her identity be protected and should not be used by political parties and the media. “The justice I deserve should not be redirected by political parties for their political opportunism,” she said. “They should not hamper justice.”
The Tamil Nadu Police on Tuesday said the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department has taken over the case, which relates to allegations that a four-member gang have been befriending hundreds of women on social media and sexually molesting them since 2013. In some cases, the men shot explicit videos of the women and used those to blackmail their victims, police said. The victims reportedly included college students, homemakers and working women in Pollachi.
Kanimozhi demanded a fresh police investigation into all suicides by women in Pollachi over the past seven years, IANS reported. “Many women were blackmailed, the crime has been going on for the past seven years,” she said. “There would be a bigger network of criminals, not just the four arrested persons.”
The Rajya Sabha MP was taken into custody after her speech and later released. Several Opposition parties, including Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam and Communist Party of India, have also demanded action in the case.
NCW seeks action
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women on Wednesday asked the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police TK Rajendran to initiate action against men accused, PTI reported. The panel’s chief, Rekha Sharma, said the commission is “seriously concerned” about women’s safety in the state.
“Considering the gravity of the matter, it is requested that appropriate action be taken as per the relevant provisions of law against all the accused and a detailed action taken report in the matter be sent to the commission,” she said in her letter to the police chief.