The Pollachi sex scandal has rankled the entire Tamil society in the way it was executed. The wanton way with which the perpetrators went about tormenting and ravaging their victims, is a sad reminder of the depravity to which our society has sunk. The Dravidian parties and their brand of politics cannot escape the blame of the lack of moral compass brought in the society by their atheistic outlook. Sooner the Tamil society rectifies the lacunae the better for the state and nation.
The opposition DMK's design to push the ruling AIADMK into a corner by raking up a horrifying case of sexual harassment in Pollachi near Coimbatore as the poll issue may boomerang with one of its youth wing functionary’s name has cropped up.
Left to Right. Accused Thirunavukkuarasu, Sathish, Sabrirajan and Vasanthkumar
The lid of Pandora’s box opened by an affected girl who came forward and preferred police a compliant despite threat by gang members. With the days passed, it now known at least 50 women have been allegedly trapped and sexually harassed by four-member gang. Their modus operandi is to befriend innocent school and college girls, housewives and working women, professionals. Later one or other pretexts taking them to lonely pre-arranged places and gang rape them by video graphing the incident. By threatening to upload them in the social media , the girls were passed on to friends and party functionaries and extorted money from them.
"Most of the victims refused to lodge formal complaints fearing a backlash from their families and social stigma. While refusing to file complaints, at least four victims informally confessed to the police about how they were trapped by the gang. Their versions corroborated with the confessions made by the accused,” an investigation officer said. According to first complaint in the matter, the one of the four youths spoke to the 19-year-old on Facebook and befriended her. “On February 12, both of them decided to meet during the lunch break in her college. 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,” the officer said. The matter came to fore three weeks ago after the four accused, all in their 20s, were arrested in February for allegedly blackmailing and sexually harassing a 19-year-old girl. Thirunavukkarasu (26) and Sathish (29) — were close friends for over six years. Sabarirajan and Vasanthkumar became members of the gang only recently. “All of them are from a middle- class background and they claimed that they had sexually abused women after they agreed to come to the place they demanded,” said DSP Jeyaram.
"Their mobile phones had images of around 50 women. They lured women with fake female accounts on Facebook. In most of the cases, they struck a conversation with the victims, asking questions on lesbianism and other sex-related topics. After a friendship, conversations turned into sexual chats and they later revealed their identity and forced the women to meet in person citing their chats. They harassed women in moving vehicles, hotels and even a farmhouse near Anamalai forest. The victims are from Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem and many parts of Tamil Nadu, and they include school and college teachers, doctors, senior secondary and college students. Videos of four different women being harassed have been seized from K Thirunavukkarasu and his accomplice N Sabarirajan. We have identified two victims, ,” police sources said.
One of the victim narrated her family about the incident, her brother approached the gang and requested them to delete a video, but he was threatened instead. The family then filed a complaint at the nearest police station. “Police arrested four others in a separate case for threatening the victim’s brother. They include some politically influential people in Pollachi who have business interests in liquor and cable TV networks,” the officer said. More than 50 women across Tamil Nadu were allegedly lured and sexually harassed by a four-member gang from Pollachi in a case that has taken a political turn with the Opposition alleging the role of senior AIADMK leaders.
Deputy speaker of TN Assembly, Pollachi V Jayaraman charged that the DMK has been spreading rumours to tarnish the image of the AIADMK. “The girl’s family approached me and I requested police to take strong action against the accused. But the DMK tried to tarnish our image using social media. DMK president M K Stalin’s son-in-law Sabarisan instigated the party cadres against my family and party,” Jayaraman said media persons recently. “They are spreading rumours, saying that my sons are involved in the case. But people of Coimbatore and Tirupur know my family very well. I will approach the Election Commission of India (ECI) demanding action against the rumour-mongers,” he said.
It is an embarrassment for the ruling AIADMK that face a litmus test after the demise of its charismatic leader Jayalalithaa. The state governments life at stake and the outcome of the by-poll 18 constituencies is a deciding factor to shore up majority numbers. Seeing the writing on the wall, AIADMK on 11th March expelled A Nagaraj, one of the accused in the second case of threatening the victim’s brother, from the party’s primary membership following his photo with an AIADMK minister was circulated on social media.
DMK chief M K Stalin asked whether the AIADMK government was trying to protect the accused. PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, who is part of the AIADMK alliance, also issued a statement demanding maximum punishment for the culprits. Almost all political party leaders including BJP, left parties echoed the same sentiment.
DMK has announced of holding protests demanding fair investigation into the matter. In an unexpected twist, involvement of Bike Babu, DMK youth wing coordinator, who is reportedly the leader of the gang, has been doing rounds in social media. Surprisingly his father, Thendral Selvaraj, Kovai South District Secretary of DMK held a protest condemning the incidents on 12th March. This prompted AIADMK cadres asking Selvaraj whom he tried to protect his son or anybody.
As face saving and damage control exercise, TN government within hours of announcing handing the probe to CB- CID, in a change of mind in the evening said CBI would investigate the issue. Once the CBI takes over the probe, many more skeletons will tumble out of the cupboard. Coimbatore District Collector Rajamani ordered detention of the accused under the Goondas Act following recommendations by Superintendent of Police R Pandiarajan.
Sr. Journalist Sekar said, after the Dravidian parties came to power in 1967, the Inspection Bungalows (IB) and Traveller’s Bungalows (TB) become vice den or harem for DMK ministers and party senior functionaries. Innocent women cadres and even women officers were forced to sleep with them. Most of the DMK and AIADMK ministers have more than one wife, besides innumerable concubines. So it is not a surprise for TN people. But this time they had exploited the social media and lured many innocent girls in the name friendship. The culprits must be brought book and given severe punishment. This has been going on for seven years. Why should be it raked up now at the time when the country is going to polls? Somebody wants to take political mileage out of it. Solely blaming ruling government and passing buck on others would not in any way going to help the affected girls and would diver the attention from the core issue. It is not an another “ me -too” like campaign. "
TN opposition parties said “the anti-social gang had been active for the past six to seven years indulging in serious offences like sexual harassment against women and demanded a court monitored CBI probe to ensure justice".
“Our first duty should be to help the victims to come out of the nightmarish they have undergone. They have to be given counselling. As it is a crime against women, there is no room for politicising. It is high time that all should joined together and helped the government to arrest the culprits. They should also offer ways to avoid such things in future. Create awareness about the darker side of smartphone and other modern communicative gadgets among school and college girls, women of all age group particularly the impact of social media platform on their lives” said a psychologist Tiruneveli unit of the ABVP in a statement said “In Tamil Nadu a lot women like Swathi, Valliyur Mercy were killed for rejecting love proposals. A woman professor Nirmala Devi has been accused of for sending students to higher-ups, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University professor has been sacked for raping students. Now the Pollachi issue is in news. Both media and political parties handle this sensitive issue more carefully by not publishing victims photos, videos etc. Don’t sensationalise such things for TRP. Political parties too should not try to gain out of this issue for their electoral fortunes”