In April this year, Tamil Nadu heard a shocking tape that exposed the attempt by an assistant professor to lure four female students into sex work at a college in Virudhunagar. Nirmala Devi who taught at the Devanga Arts College was arrested and based on her confession, assistant professor Murugan from the Madurai Kamaraj University and a former research scholar Karuppusamy were also nabbed.
Though there was a buzz that bigger names were involved in the scandal, the CB CID wing which is handling the case dismissed this speculation, when they told the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court a few days ago that Nirmala Devi was luring the young women only for her two colleagues, Murugan and Karuppuswamy, who had already been arrested. They claimed she was in an intimate relationship with them and spoke to the girls on their instructions. In short, the investigating agency alleges that the three people in police custody were the only ones responsible for the crime in which Nirmala Devi had promised scholarships and jobs in return for sexual favours.
Opposition parties and relatives of the accused however, say there is more than meets the eye.
Suja, Murugan's wife too alleges that senior officials in the university are being protected by the CB CID.
"The investigating officials already know who is behind this crime. A look at Nirmala Devi's call records would have proved this. But they are not even questioning the right people. How can my husband, an assistant professor whose salary is only enough to run our homes promise jobs to these girls?" she claims.
The CB-CID in its report however made no mention of higher officials in the University.
â€œBased on the confession of accused Nirmala Devi and statement of witnesses, it was found that two other accused, namely Murugan and Karuppasamy, were involved in this case. Both these accused persons were in close association with the accused Nirmala Devi. She had illegal intimacy with both these accused and she has gone to an extent by promising to please them by providing her own college students for sexual favours. Both the accused Murugan and Karuppasamy asked Nirmala Devi to seduce young innocent college girls to offer sexual favours to them. They had repeatedly insisted that college girls shall be arranged for them for providing sexual favours and thus they had tried to sexually exploit the young college going girls their personal benefits," the report read.
Political parties meanwhile term the investigation a sham.
"From the audio recording that was leaked, it is clear that the person for whom the girls were being lured was in a powerful position, because the students were offered scholarships and jobs," says A Saravanan, spokesperson for the DMK. "Someone who could move things was involved. But this sham of an investigation doesn't tell us who. If the right people are not exposed, this menace will only continue. The undue haste shown by the Governor to appoint a one man inquiry commission, the decision to not reveal its content and the overall manner in which the case is being handled all raises several questions," he adds.
The CPI(M) in a recent press release alleged that the police was attempting to close the case without pulling up any 'big fish'.
"They want to just blame these three accused and wind up the case. Why would an assistant professor even do such favours for a research scholar?" asks CPI(M) state General Secretary Balakrishnan. "Moreover none of the accused are being given bail because the police are scared that they will come out and talk to the media," he adds.
The CB-CID has objected bail pleas of all the three accused, claiming that they would influence witnesses. The have further furnished phone records in court to show that the three accused were in frequent contact before the call to the victims was made.
"The only way to get to the bottom of this is to have the CBI or court appointed committee take over the probe," says Saravanan.
The CPI(M) too demands that the CBI take over the case in order to ensure a fair probe.