The Tamil Nadu police's statement on the sexual abuse of nearly 60 women in Pollachi has raised several questions. The horrific sex abuse case, which has rocked the state, came to light last month after one of the women filed a police complaint. Yesterday, the state government decided to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The police's handling of the case appears to have been marked by lapses on the score of evidence, tracing survivors and pinning down the number of accused, say opposition parties in Tamil Nadu.
The police have not applied for the custody of the arrested men - a time reserved for questioning of the accused - and they illegally named the survivor who filed the complaint in their press statement. It is not known what action has been taken against the officer responsible.
The police claimed that the cellphone of the accused had only four videos of assaults, instead of the 200 videos that the local media claimed. The police also claimed that there were only four women who were abused and the number of accused is also four.
"We have got enough information... whatever information needed from the accused have been got during the preliminary probe and questioning. If the need arises, we will take them into Police custody for questioning," said Pandiarajan, the police officer who was heading the probe.
He, however, added that out of the four women, "two have been identified and two are yet to be identified" - raising doubts on how much information the police have. To a question on two other names figuring in the case FIR, the officer said he was "not aware of it and would have to check".
Asked about the possibility of other videos being deleted - possibly by main accused Thirunavukkarasu, who was absconding for around 10 days before being caught -- the officer said: "If videos were deleted, we will retrieve it. Mobiles have been sent for forensic examination".
It is not clear how without the results of the forensic examination, the police concluded there were only four survivors and four perpetrators as they rely on the videos in the mobile phones.
Mr Pandiarajan also added, "Based on the requirement of the probe, we will consider appointing a woman investigation officer" even though the law says this is mandatory in cases involving sexual abuse or rape.
MK Stalin, the leader of the state's opposition DMK, has demanded a speedy, court-monitored trial and tough action.
"It is a shame that the Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam have not said anything on this," Mr Stalin said. "Invoking Goondas Act (a state law) raises doubts on whether it is an attempt to technically help the accused. Recent women suicides in the area ought to be reinvestigated," he added.
Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the National Women's Commission, has written to the police asking for a report on the action taken in the case.
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