Kochi: Even as over a half a dozen people have been arrested over the blackmail of model-actress Shamna Kasim, the gang is likely still active. A young model, one of the victims of the extortion gang accused in the sensational case, has disclosed that she is facing threats from the racket even after the matter came to light recently.
The young woman, who has been into modelling for five years, said she was in the captivity of the gang for about six days in March this year.
A female intermediary who is from Palarivattom in Kochi put me in touch with the culprits, she said.
The gang still threatens me saying they will harm my future if I approached the police with a complaint and filed a case, the model, who is from Alappuzha, claimed.
The model recalled her ordeal after she was lured by the gang as she looked for chances in modelling.
“A native of Palarivattom called me and told me that there is a shoot for a jewellery advertisement in Kochi. I have known the woman for two years. She was earlier doing event management but then shifted to modelling
“I went for the shoot because I trusted her. I was told the shoot would be over by noon the next day. I left my home on a Scooty at about 9pm on March 3. I reached Kundannoor around midnight.
“When I called her, she told me I had to reach a hotel in Wadakkancherry, in Palakkad, and not Kochi. I reached Wadakkancherry on a friend’s bike around 2am on March 4.
“When I called on the phone number that the woman had given, I was told that only women were allowed into the hotel rooms and that men were barred. So I asked my friend to stop the bike a little away from the hotel and walked towards it.
“At the hotel, there were two girls in one room and four in another.
“Two of the girls were being held captive for over three weeks. Nine members of the gang were holding the girls captive.
“When I enquired about the shooting, Rafeeq, a gang member, told we had to smuggle currency. But the two girls said that the gang was into gold smuggling.
“When I said I would not take up the job and that I wanted to return, Rafeeq said I cannot leave till the deal was complete, irrespective of whether I participated in the activities or not.
“When I realised I had been cheated, I called the intermediary. She just said I could go back. We spent five days at the hotel, but we were provided meals on just one day.
“On the sixth day, six of us escaped in the cars of a few girls who had been asked to come to the hotel just like us. On March 11 we reached Thrissur.”
The police came to know about the gang while investigating a complaint from actress Shamna Kasim and her mother about threatening and extortion calls she had received.
Kasim said that the gang members approached her family in April saying they had come with a marriage alliance for her from a well-to-do family.
A few days later, one of them called seeking her help saying the ‘would-be groom’ was facing financial difficulties in one of his projects. When she refused to give them the money, they started threatening her over the phone saying they would harm her career, she said in her complaint.
After Kasim’s complaint became public, many other victims of the gang approached the police. The police learned that the gang had kept young women captive by luring them with the promise of modelling assignments, but with the intention of using them as carriers of gold.
The police suspect that the gang got the phone numbers of its victims from a hairstylist, Harris, of Thrissur, who is a relative of Rafeeq and is said to have links with people in the film world.