Kochi tattoo artist arrested over sexual assault charges
Kerala police have arrested tattoo artist Sujeesh P S from his hideout in Kochi late Saturday night after a series of sexual assault complaints were registered against him.
Kochi police commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam confirmed the arrest and said they registered six cases of sexual harassment against him after a social media post of an 18-year-old girl alleging Sujeesh raped her prompted more victims to approach the police.
The commissioner said the police are expecting more complaints against him in the coming days, and a special investigation team will be formed to probe the cases.
“So far, we have registered six cases. After allegations surfaced, Sujeesh closed his studio and absconded. Our teams were monitoring his movements and tracked him down on Saturday night,” he said.
Police raided his studio on Saturday and seized laptops, CCTV visuals and other records.
He was booked under Section 375 (rape) and Section 509 (insulting modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to the police, many victims refused to file a complaint fearing bad publicity and preferred to remain anonymous on social media.
However, victims filed formal complaints after commissioner Chakilam assured them of protection and confidentiality.
During the initial probe, Kochi police inspected all tattoo studios in the port city, collecting Sujeesh’s and his employees’ details.
“Some of the complaints against Sujeesh are three to four years- old, but we will collect scientific evidence,” a police official said.
On March 3, the 18-year-old victim took to social media to narrate her experience at Sujeesh’s tattoo studio ‘Inkfected’ in Kochi. The post was widely circulated.
“I never thought the man will have the audacity to do something like this. I did not speak a word. I just felt like dying right there on the spot for being so stupid. I felt disgusted,” the victim wrote.
Kochi police said the accused is a popular tattoo artist, catering to celebrities in the Malayalam film industry and other VIPs. Started in a small manner, Sujeesh flourished in the last five years after tattoo culture turned a big fad among youth in the city, police said.
He has over 52,000 followers on social media, where he used often post photos with celebrities to attract clientele. Immediately after the 18-year-old victim’s alleged post, his Instagram account was not functioning, police added.