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Six youths and two minors were held over the weekend for alleged involvement in two different rape cases at a homestay in Fort Kochi, a tourist location in Kochi. In both incidents, the same person allegedly recorded the assaults on his cellphone to blackmail the victims.
The arrest of the six youths on Saturday brought out the second incident, which had taken place earlier this month. While going through the cellphone visuals of the gang-rape, the police found a video of another attack in which the minors were allegedly involved.
The arrested six were identified as E Christy, an employee at the homestay, and his friends Althaf, Ijaz, K Saju, A Appu and Afsal — all around 20 years and local residents.
According to police, the gangrape took place two months ago, when a youth and his friend had checked in at the homestay, Good Shepherd, in Fort Kochi. Around 10 pm the same day, homestay employee Christy reportedly called his five friends, and Ijaz approached the youth. He took his car on the pretext of getting dinner for the two.
Soon as he drove off the other five stormed in, threw out the youth and locked the room from inside, according to his complaint to the police. They allegedly tied the victim’s hands and assaulted her, joined by Ijaz on his return. The woman was repeatedly abused until 4 am, and Althaf reordered it on his cellphone, the police said. In the early hours, they took her gold ornaments and fled in her friend’s car, threatening to upload the video on social media if they dared approach the police.
According to the complainant, he was forced to pay Rs 1 lakh to get his car back. They subsequently demanded Rs 5 lakh, again threatening to release the video. The youth finally approached Kochi police, who, under the pretext of being friends of the victim, asked the six to reach a location so that they could be handed over Rs 5 lakh cash. The six were arrested when they arrived at the site.
Recovering visuals of the other assault from Althaf’s mobile phone, the police detained two minors late Sunday evening.
An officer said the homestay owner has given a statement that he was not aware of either incident. “The homestay does not have necessary licence. We are verifying details as to whether he should also be made an accused,’’ the officer said.