Sex racket derails NDA alliance in Tamil Nadu  

Alliance that BJP forged with AIADMK in Tamil Nadu might prove to be disastrous for it, due to failure of state government under AIADMK to take action in the sensational Pollachi sex scandal

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

G Babu Jayakumar

The wail of that entrapped girl was so shrill and heart rending that it tugged at the collective heartstrings of Tamil Nadu. The choked voice seeking mercy from the gang of sadistic rapists was so mind blowing that in this poll season it even has the potential to turn out to be spoiler for the ruling party alliance, and not without reason.

Though the unsavoury sex scandal, involving a gang of privileged youth in Pollachi, a town near Coimbatore, who lured women to their den and then exploited them repeatedly, came to light last month itself, the severity and ghastliness of the crime sunk in only after people heard one of the victims on a video clip released by a Tamil magazine group, Nakeeran.

With the video going viral, people gasped and flinched through the clip although many viewers found it difficult to watch the entire clip.

But the part of the sleazy tale that left people enraged was that perpetrators of the crime – befriending, stripping, raping, torturing, videographing, threatening, intimidating and thus perpetually enslaving about 250 women – were close to the ruling party.

One of the persons arrested by the police, ‘Bar’ Nataraj, was indeed a functionary of the ruling AIADMK in the state. Though he has been summarily thrown out of the party and stripped of all posts with imme

diate effect, the name of another senior party leader popped up as local news channels went to town with the story.

Not only the ruling AIADMK tried to defend him by saying that it was the same leader who wanted the police to investigate the scandal in the first place, a police officer ruled out the hand of the relatives of the particular leader.

But people’s suspicion was not allayed because two of the senior officers handling the case had been caught earlier on camera misbehaving with women. One of the two officers had slapped a woman protestor on the road during an agitation demanding prohibition and the other was caught on camera while groping a woman officer while the police faced a group of protestors. With such officers at the helm, women cannot expect justice in a case like this, many felt. By entrusting the investigation of the Pollachi rape scandal to the two officers, the ruling party in TN were seen as confirming the people’s worst suspicions.

The scandal also reinforced public perception that functionaries of the AIADMK are having a free run. Earlier, the party, under the firm grip of Jayalalithaa would not have brooked a crime of this scale against women, the people feel

In the disturbing video, a young woman is seen being beaten up with a belt by one of the tormentors even as she cries out in pain pleading with him to stop and assuring him that she would take her dress off. The Nakeeeran video claimed that 1,100 such videos had been shot by the gang of sexual predators but the police claimed there were only four videos and that no woman had come forward to file a complaint of rape.

Not surprisingly, the entire opposition in Tamil Nadu were up in arms and demanded investigation by the CB-CID, a special investigation wing of the State Police. But there was no word of disapproval from the BJP. PMK, another alliance partner of the AIADMK, despite demanding action against the culprits, slyly pointed a finger at the hapless victims.

The PMK had been openly speaking against love marriages and inter-caste nuptials. So, for them, the scandal was another ruse to warn women against falling in love with men against their parents’ wishes – its usual regressive rhetoric aimed at protecting ‘caste purity’. For the BJP, however, this did not seem to warrant a criticism of the way the state government had handled the scandal.

The scandal also reinforced public perception that functionaries of the AIADMK are having a free run. Earlier, the party, under the firm grip of Jayalalithaa would not have brooked a crime of this scale against women, the people feel.

The opposition campaign could also hurt BJP’s poll prospects and the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, particularly after the AIADMK declared him as the party’s ‘daddy’ (A State Minister K T Rajendra Balaji recently amused many people in the state by saying that Modi was the party’s daddy).

Ironically, Jayalalithaa had challenged the alleged greatness of Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by coining the famous ‘Lady vs Modi’ slogan.

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