One more arrested in blackmailing case

 thehindu.com  06/30/2020 02:37:37 

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the racket of imposters that entrapped young aspiring actors on various pretexts made one more arrest on Monday, taking the number of arrests to eight.

The arrested was identified as Harris, reportedly a make-up artist in the Malayalam film industry. The police said he was an active collaborator and a member of the gang closely associated with the other prominent members Shereef and Refeeque, who had already been arrested.

He was the one who procured the phone number of actors Shamna Kasim and Dharmajan for the gang, said Vijay Sakhare, District Police Chief, Kochi City.

Mr. Dharmajans statement was recorded by the police after it emerged that the racket had contacted and tried to entice him with proceeds from gold smuggling. However, the gang aborted that attempt fearing that he may report the matter. Our focus is now on finding out whether there is more to the case related to Ms. Kasim than what meets the eye. We are trying to find out why she was chosen as a a target and whether there was someone behind the gang targeting her, said Mr. Sakhare.

He later told media that the gang had contacted him multiple times and tried to elicit the contact number of Ms. Kasim and another prominent female actor. He said that he thought the calls received during the lockdown as pranks and that the number from which he was contacted was switched off later probably fearing that he may report the matter to the police.

He also named a production controller as the one who gave his number to the gang.

Asked whether the said production controller was in any way associated with the gang, Mr. Sakhare would only say that more people would be summoned for interrogation in the days to come.

Though the SIT has registered eight First Information Reports with regard to five incidents, including the bid to cheat Ms. Kasim in the guise of a marriage proposal, all arrests so far have been in Ms. Kasims case.

At a later stage, however, these cases might be clubbed together. Apart from Ms. Kasim, seven other young women have petitioned the police complaining of being cheated by the gang after enticing them with acting offers.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Customs was planning to look into the alleged gold-smuggling links of the racket.

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