Chennai police on Tuesday arrested 17 men including security guards, electricians and plumbers who allegedly raped an 11-year-old hearing impaired girl in an apartment block over the past seven months.
All the accused were produced in the Saidapet Mahila court where some of them were beaten up by a group of lawyers as public anger and shock at the child’s assault spiralled.
In a video of the assault, which has gone viral, a group of men in white shirts and black trousers are seen dragging a man from a staircase, beating him with fists and kicking him on his stomach while police personnel struggled to protect the accused.
Charged with raping a minor, under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), the court sent all the accused to judicial custody till July 31.
The police said they are looking out for a few more suspects involved in the crime that has left Chennai shocked and furious.
The arrests were made following a complaint by the victim's father that his 11-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by several men in the apartment complex.
The incident came to light when the victim, a class seven student, told her elder sister about the trauma she was going through. Her sister informed their parents who in turn filed a complaint with all women police at Ayanavaram.
A senior police officer said that the perpetrators drugged her allegedly before she was sexually assaulted in various places inside the apartment premises at various days for the past seven months. The officer said that they had videotaped the girl nude and threatened to release it if she told someone about it.
The official said the girl was first sexually assaulted by a lift operator and later several others joined in the assault. At least four of them have confessed to the assault, while two others said they had molested the girl, the official said.
The 18 men were in the age group of 23 to 66 years and they were engaged by two private companies – FOCUS, a security firm and UK Facility Services.
The victim’s father who runs an electronic shop and her mother is a homemaker. They did not find anything unusual until the girl opened up to her sister who is studying in Delhi and came home on leave on July 13.
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