Chennai gutka crackdown: Cops await key forensic report on rape cases

Updated on Apr 05, 2022 12:43 AM IST

On April 1, police produced 48-year-old Perumal, charged with sexually assaulting sevenchildren aged between 4 and 17 and filming them, along with two mothers (who are also sisters), accused of taking their minor daughters to him in exchange for money.

Now, the police are awaiting crucial evidence in the case – a forensic report of main accused A Perumal’s mobile phones in which he had recorded the videos and photos, which is under analysis in a lab in Chennai. (HT File)
Now, the police are awaiting crucial evidence in the case – a forensic report of main accused A Perumal’s mobile phones in which he had recorded the videos and photos, which is under analysis in a lab in Chennai. (HT File)
By, Chennai

The case of a serial rapist in Chennai, which was unravelled during a crackdown on gutka and tobacco products in August last year, is now under trial at a special city court for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) cases, with the latest hearing held on April 1.

On August 28, 2021, the police of TP Chatram in Chennai received a tip-off that the main accused, A Perumal, was selling gutka. Sure enough, a raid turned up 30 packets of the banned product. However, an examination of his phone to trace his source of supply took a horrific turn after the police discovered that he was an alleged serial rapist of minors and had saved video clips of the assaults.

On April 1, police produced 48-year-old Perumal, charged with sexually assaulting sevenchildren aged between 4 and 17 and filming them, along with two mothers (who are also sisters), accused of taking their minor daughters to him in exchange for money.

Now, the police are awaiting crucial evidence in the case – a forensic report of Perumal’s mobile phones in which he had recorded the videos and photos, which is under analysis in a lab in Chennai.

“Two children who are daughters of the accused mothers are kept in a government children’s home for girls,” said a police inspector of the all-women’s police station in Kilpauk, who charge-sheeted the mother and the accused rapist last year.

“The remaining children were produced before the Child Welfare Committee who decided that they can continue living with their parents.”

Until the charge sheet was filed last December, all the seven children were kept in the government home.

“He is wearing a specific watch in these videos and that is the main evidence to show that it was him in the videos and not something which he claims–which is just child pornography that he has downloaded,” said the police official quoted above. “But we found both on his phone. The videos of children we had rescued and videos, which he had downloaded.” The police had seized two mobile phones from Perumal.

Police had initially rescued five girls and found that in two cases, the mothers of the girls were complicit in the rapes. Police said that the two mothers are also seen in the videos engaging in sexual acts with the 48-year-old man. Each time, Perumal paid each of the two mothers between 1,000 and 2,000, police said.

In August last year, when HT visited the crime scene –the birthplace of these mothers in central Chennai and where the mothers used to live with their families in south Chennai – the neighbours had been in complete shock. The neighbours had then said that they knew these mothers were reeling under poverty but didn’t think that they would be part of a sexual crime that involved their children.

The police first found a 9-year-old, who led them to the remaining girls. The initial victim had said that one of them was her cousin’s sister and the other three were their friends. However, besides the two mothers, the remaining families were unaware of these crimes, police said. But the mothers knew one another as most of them were street flower sellers. All families belonged to lower social strata, and the parents were daily wage workers.

“The court has examined all the witnesses in the case,” said R Karthikeyan, deputy commissioner of police in Chennai’s Kilpauk. “It’s a case we had taken very seriously and we hope the accused are punished.”

The main accused Perumal and the two mothers are currently lodged in Chennai’s Puzhal prison. They have been booked under several sections 5 (l) (m) (aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 9 (l) (m) (committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault repeatedly), 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault), 13 (use of a child for pornographic purposes), 14 (punishment for using children for pornography) 15 (Any person, who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child), 16 and 17 (abetment of offence) of the Pocso Act. The three accused have also been charged under section 376 AB (raping a child under 12 years of age) under the Indian Penal Code and 66 E (whoever captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person) of the IT Act.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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