The police have slapped the provisions of the Goondas Act on the four accused who have been arrested in connection with the Pollachi sexual assault case. Just a day earlier, the Pollachi Magistrate Court had extended the remand for three of the four accused by 15 days.
The police action is in keeping with their earlier assertion that the four men -- Thirunavukkarasu, Sathish, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar -- had sexually assaulted and extorted other women. According to the police, their modus operandi involved befriending college-going girls online, filming them after they met them in person, and blackmailing them later with the videos for money.
The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982 or the Goondas Act defines a goonda as “a member of or leader of a gang, habitually commits, or attempts to commit or abets the commission of offences.”
Under the Goondas Act, a person may be detained without bail for a period that may extend up to one year. In 2011, the Madras High Court held that a single case was enough to detain a person under the Goondas Act.
It may be recalled that the Tamil Nadu police also slapped the Goondas Act on 17 accused in the rape of a 11-year-old child in Chennai last year.
On February 24, a Pollachi-based woman registered a complaint with a local police station, alleging that four men -- Thirunavukkarasu, Sathish, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar -- sexually assaulted her in a car under the pretext of a friendly meeting on February 12. Police confirmed that the perpetrators of the crime shot videos of the girl, using it later to extort money from the survivor. While Sabarirajan, Vasanthakumar and Sathish were arrested on February 24, Thirunavukkarasu was apprehended on March 5.
Soon after the survivor narrated her ordeal to her family, her brother Subhash confronted the men about the incident. The confrontation soon escalated to a physical altercation where Subhash was assaulted by four men.
According to the police, AIADMK functionary A Nagaraj came to the defence of Thirunavukkarasu after the confrontation, threatening and assaulting Subhash. Subhash lodged a complaint with the police. While the initial FIR did not mention him, Nagaraj's name was later added.