- Thirunavukarasu allegedly used sexual assault videos to blackmail victims
- Three others are also charged under Goondas Act in this connection
- High Court has ordered payment of Rs 25-lakh compensation to complainant
An MBA graduate who runs a finance business has been taken into police custody, and is being questioned over allegations of blackmailing women in a sex scandal that has rattled Tamil Nadu in recent days.
Thirunavukarasu, who will be in the custody of the Tamil Nadu police's CB-CID wing for four days, is among four accused who have been charged under the Goondas Act in connection with the Pollachi sex scandal. It is alleged that he used videos of women being sexually assaulted to blackmail them into providing money as well as sexual favours.
Although police had earlier claimed that at least 60 women were targeted by the accused, just one came forward to formally file a complaint in the case.
Yesterday, the Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay Rs 25 lakh to the woman complainant for revealing her name on two occasions. While Coimbatore Superintendent of Police SP Pandiarajan mentioned her name during a press meet, Tamil Nadu Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi revealed it in an order transferring the case to the CBI. The central agency is yet to start probing the scandal.
The High Court's Madurai bench ordered disciplinary action against the official concerned, and ruled that the transfer order be withdrawn in favour of a new one. "There should be soul searching by everybody concerned here," the bench comprising N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar said.
In all, eight men were arrested after the woman student from Pollachi complained of sexual abuse, blackmail and extortion. Police said the accused would befriend women on social media, and after taking them to hotels or on long drives, sexually assault them. The victims would then be allegedly blackmailed through photographs and videos of their assault.
While the opposition DMK has accused the ruling AIADMK of trying to protect the accused in the case, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan has alleged that the investigative lapses were a deliberate attempt at discouraging other sexual assault survivors from speaking up. "Why is the government silent? You've prevented the women from complaining," the actor-turned-politician, who had first flagged the issue, alleged.
Chief Minister E Palaniswamy hasn't commented on the matter, although his party - the AIADMK - has expelled a youth wing leader who allegedly threatened the complainant's brother. The other accused charged under the Goondas Act are Sabarirajan, an engineer, and private company employees Satish and T Vasanthakumar.
Meanwhile, Chennai police has filed an FIR against Sabareesan - the son-in-law of DMK chief MK Stalin - for allegedly spreading false news implicating Tamil Nadu Deputy Speaker Pollachi Jayaraman in the case.
News agency IANS reported that although agitations by students, political parties and other social groups against the Pollachi sex scandal ebbed today, the trading community is planning a shutdown on Tuesday. The protest is being held to demand a court-monitored probe by the CBI in the case.