TN police to share details of Pollachi case; Public ransacks Nagaraj’s bar

Chennai: The Tamilnadu government has decided to hand over the Pollachi sexual assault case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Even as a formal order from the Home Department is awaited, the Tamilnadu police have extended support and willingness to provide all the details related to the case.

The government’s decision to transfer the investigation into over 50 cases of sexual abuse against women in Pollachi against four accused to CBI has been reportedly made following massive outrage in the State. It was also taking into account the concerns of the Opposition parties and prominent personalities.

It may be noted that yesterday morning, an order was passed by Tamilnadu DGP T K Rajendran, approving the transfer of the sexual assault case to the CB-CID. The main accused in the case also had his bail plea cancelled yesterday.

The case has resulted in widespread outrage with many political parties holding protests in Coimbatore district.
The four men, Thirunavukarasu, Sathish, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar, are accused of sexually assaulting a number of young women in Pollachi over a period of time. It is said more than 50 women across Tamilnadu have been lured and sexually harassed by this gang.

The police say the network might include more people, including a few big names. Yesterday, the court turned down the bail plea of Thirunavukarasu, the main accused in the case.

The incident came to light after the four accused were arrested in February for allegedly blackmailing and sexually harassing a 19-year-old girl. This is the first complaint made in the case.

The victim told the police that one of the four youths established contact with her on Facebook and befriended her.
On 12 February, both of them decided to meet during her college lunch break. As she met him and entered his car, three of his friends joined them. After the car started moving, the man who invited her started harassing her sexually while others took videos. They used this video later to blackmail her for more such meetings and money. She eventually told her family about the incident.

Yesterday, AIADMK expelled party functionary A Nagaraj, also known as ‘Bar’ Nagaraj, accused of threatening the victim’s brother who asked the men that the videos be deleted and the harassment stopped. This morning, his bar in Pollachi was ransacked by the public.

The police are also analysing the videos the men have captured of the victims and investigating the case further. A number of advocates have also offered to help the victims even as most of them have refused to file formal complaints fearing a backlash from their families.

Pollachi DSP R Jeyaram urged the public to inform the police if they know of any other victims, promising that their details will be kept confidential.

Ignorance or intimidation?
It is basic knowledge that a victim’s name and identity should be kept secret while the police are investigating a case of sexual assault. But what is to be done when the police themselves violate this?

On 1 March, Coimbatore SP R Pandiarajan held a televised press conference, where the officer revealed the identity of the survivor in the Pollachi case. Yet again, on 6 March, the police released a statement to the press, identifying the survivor with details including her name, educational background and locality.

Slamming Pandiarajan for revealing the name of the survivor, DMK MP Kanimozhi said the name was revealed only to silence the other women and prevent them from coming out in the open and complaining. Yesterday, the survivor submitted a petition to the Coimbatore Collector, requesting protection of her identity.

NT Bureau