Kochi: More complaints were lodged on Thursday against a gang that tried to extort money from South Indian actress Shamna Kasim.
These complaints allege that the gang had previously kept a group of women captive and made efforts to extort money from them too.
The women approached the police two days after four members of the gang were arrested in wake of a complaint lodged by Kasim. The gang had apparently approached the actress with a marriage proposal before showing their true colours.
Three women,working as models, on Thursday lodged a complaint that they were kept in a gang's captivity for a week in Palakkad and attempts were made to extort money after inviting them for modelling, police said.
Talking about the fresh complaint filed by the three models, police said the gang allegedly held eight women in captivity for a week at a location in Palakkad in March this year and tried to extort money from them after inviting them for modelling.
One woman has alleged molestation by a gang member while being in captivity, police said.
Police hope to extract more information regarding the activities of the gang during the custodial interrogation of the four men arrested on Tuesday. There are at least three more gang members to be arrested, they said.
Talking to reporters after filing the complaint, one of the models said at least eight women were kept in the location at Palakkad for eight days. The gang did not provide them adequate food or water, she alleged,
Besides seeking to extort money from them, the gang also allegedly threatened the women if police or their families were informed about the matter.
The gang also allegedly persuaded women to work as carriers for a gold smuggling racket while being kept in their captivity, she alleged.
A model from Alappuzha and an actress residing in Kadavanthra in Ernakulam had fallen victims to the gang, according to the police. The two, who had lost money and jewellery to the scamsters, have lodged a complaint with the Maradu police station.
The gang is behind many frauds, IG Vijay Sakhare said. The police investigations have revealed that they have committed many offences, including sexual abuse of young women.
Even though the police have received information that the gang sexually abused young women, they will not be able to investigate the matter till someone comes forward and files a complaint, Sakhare said.
After Shamna Kasim’s complaint became public, the two women got in touch with the police over the phone saying they were also victims of the gang. The police expect them to come to the police station and file a complaint personally.
A special investigation team has been formed to investigate all the cases against the accused. The Thrikkakara ACP will lead the investigations, the IG said.
The fraudsters’ modus operandi is to approach the relatives of actresses by claiming to be from a rich family and saying that they are looking for a marriage alliance. They would then make it seem that they are busy with some projects for which they need funding. Once they swindle money or jewellery, they would change their phone numbers and look for other possible targets.
The police investigation so far has indicated that the gang has seven members. They have arrested four of them and are trying to ascertain if there are more involved, the IG said.
All the four arrested belong to Thrissur. They have been remanded in judicial custody.
The gang members had approached Shamna Kasim’s family claiming that they were seeking a marriage alliance. Her family showed interest when the accused said the proposal was from a well-to-do family. They also discussed the marriage with her father and brother.
A week later, Shamna got a call saying the person who the 'future groom' was facing financial difficulties in his project and that she should help him with Rs 1 lakh. The caller said one of his friends would come to collect the money.
Shamna refused and informed her mother about the call. Her mother then filed a complaint with the Maradu police.
She said the gang had approached them first in April, when Shamna was with the family in their Maradu house due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
When the gang realised that the family suspected something foul, the members started calling Shamna Kasim, threatening to harm her career and trying to extort money.
Shamna Kasim has acted in over 40 south Indian films. The model-turned-actress entered the film industry after becoming popular through television.