Following a request from the CB-CID police, the Coimbatore judicial magistrate granted four days police custody for the main accused in the Pollachi sexual assault case, Thirunavukkarasu. However, the request for custody was given by the CB-CID before the case was handed over by the government to the CBI.
A senior police officer told TNM that whatever evidence or statement CB-CID collects if Thirunavakkarasu is in their custody will anyway have to be handed over the CBI. "The CBI may file another petition saying they should get custody," the officer said.
Meanwhile, the magistrate passed the order after Thirunavukkarasu appeared through video conferencing. The Coimbatore district police had earlier on Friday, informed magistrate Nagaraj that there were difficulties in bringing Thirunavukkarasu to the court. The police had also submitted that they cannot provide sufficient security to the accused since hordes of general public were present within the court complex and more would gather if the news leaked. Hence the magistrate permitted the accused to be presented before him via video conferencing.
Thirunavukkarasu, the main accused in the Pollachi sexual assault case, was the survivor Priya’s* friend. He and another accused, Sabarirajan (a) Rishwandh, lured Priya inside a car and assaulted her along with two of their friends -- Vasanthakumar and Sathish. The four men had also allegedly videographed Priya while inside the car and tried to extort money from her.
Priya approached Pollachi police on February 24, and filed a complaint naming the four men and accusing them of sexually assaulting her. Based on her complaint, an FIR was registered and the police arrested Sabarirajan (a) Rishwandh, Vasanthakumar and Sathish on February 25, while Thirunavukkarasu went missing. Thirunavukkarasu also released video while he was absconding claiming the involvement of many political leaders in the incident. He was then arrested from near his house on March 5.
Severe criticism had cropped up related to the manner in which the Coimbatore police had handled the case. One of the criticisms was that the police did not keep any of the four accused in police custody and they had been remanded to judicial custody. In a press meet, when the reporters asked this question to Coimbatore SP Pandiarajan, he replied that the accused had confessed to the crime upon first round of questioning itself and that was the reason why they were lodged in Coimbatore central prison. He also added that if need arises, the police will request for custody of the accused in the future.
Following immense pressure from the public and politicians, the case was recently transferred to the CB-CID and then was transferred to the CBI on Wednesday.
*Name changed to protect identity