Seven persons have been taken into custody in connection with the harassment of a noted South Indian film actress, police said here today, a day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan vowed stringent action.
Police had yesterday taken the driver of the actress' vehicle into custody soon after she complained about the ordeal she underwent the previous night while travelling from Thrissur to Kochi for dubbing.
The actress was allegedly harassed for two hours by a gang of men, who forced their way into her car before fleeing at a busy area here.
"Some people have been taken into custody. We would be able to talk about their role in the incident only after a proper verification", a top police officer told PTI.
Police had deputed its various teams to places including Coimbatore in search of at least six more culprits involved in the crime.
On Saturday, Vijayan said the gang members involved in the crime had been identified and they will be arrested very soon.
"Not a single culprit involved in the incident would be allowed to escape," Vijayan wrote in a Facebook post.
Expressing concern over the incident, he said a comprehensive probe was being held into it.
"Police is after the accused. The culprits have been identified," he added.
Vijayan said the culprits would be brought to book at any cost and warned those indulging in this kind of activities of stringent action.
In her police complaint, the actress had stated on Friday night, her car was hit from behind by a vehicle at Athani, between Aluva and Angamaly. The men, suspected to be five in number, forcefully entered her car and took control of it before proceeding to Kochi.
Kerala DGP Loknath Behera has constituted a joint investigation team comprising police personnel from Kochi city and Ernakulam rural to probe one of the sensational cases, following widespread condemnation of the incident.
Yesterday, he said the gang members involved in the crime have been identified and they will be arrested "very soon."
The actress' driver is suspected to have followed her car in the vehicle used by the gang members.
During the drive, the men harassed her, by clicking her pictures and making a video, she said in her complaint. After nearly two hours of drive through the Kochi city area, they left the actress in the car in Palarivattam and fled the scene.
She was later taken to the house of film director Lal in Thrikkakara by her driver.
Lal, who is also a noted film actor, confirmed that such incident had happened.
He, however, said he could not divulge more details as it would affect the investigation.
Police suspect that blackmailing was the motive behind the crime.
The incident has become a political issue with the BJP and the Congress strongly condemning "increasing incidents of attacks against women" in the state under CPI(M)-led LDF rule.
State BJP Chief Kummanam Rajasekharan said such incidents were on a rise in the state under the CPI(M) rule and it proves that Pinarayi Vijayan was a "failure" as Chief Minister.
He urged the Chief Minister to leave the Home portfolio, currently with him.
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, also expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and demanded tough action against the criminals targeting women.
(With PTI inputs)