The CBI filed its first chargesheet Friday in a case of alleged sexual assault of a woman in Tamil Nadu’s Pollachi and charged five suspects with rape, within a month of taking over the probe, officials said.
CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said the chargesheet has been filed against Sabarirajan alias Riswanth, K Thirunavukkarasau, M Sathish, T Vasanth Kumar and R Mani in a special court in Coimbatore.
The agency said Sabarirajan worked as a site supervisor at a private construction company, while Thirunavukkarasau and Vasanth were in money-lending business. Mani and Sathish were businessmen and are in their twenties.
All the five accused are in judicial custody in Coimbatore jail, he said.
The agency has alleged that they were acting as an “organised criminal gang” and were in regular touch with each other.
The agency has charged them under IPC sections related to sexual assault, rape, robbery, besides provisions related to violation of privacy and publication and circulation of lascivious material in electronic form under the Information Technology Act.
The agency has also slapped provisions of a special law, the Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, against the accused.
Citing the need for special attention, dedicated investigation with technical expertise and the extremely serious nature of the crime, the Tamil Nadu government had given its consent to transfer the harassment case and a related assault case from the state’s CB-CID to the CBI.
A gang of men had on February 12 allegedly tried to strip the woman inside a car near Pollachi, over 500 km from Chennai.
They had shot a video of the act and blackmailed her using the visuals.
Not giving into the blackmail, the victim, who managed to free herself, lodged a complaint with police on February 24.
The case assumed political overtones since a local functionary of the ruling AIADMK allegedly attacked the victim’s brother.
The attack by the functionary, who was later expelled from the AIADMK, coupled with reports in a section of media that the gang had sexually harassed several other women, led to an outrage.
The issue eventually snowballed into a political row and the main opposition DMK targeted the AIADMK asking if it was protecting the accused persons.
A slew of protest demonstrations by parties including the DMK, students and the youth outfits had escalated the row, bringing more pressure on the government and police for speedy action.