Kochi: A gang of impostors, arrested for allegedly threatening and trying to extort money from a South Indian actress, had planned to kidnap and hold her hostage and demand a huge ransom, city police commissioner Vijay Sakhare said.
Eight of the 12 member gang, who hatched the conspiracy and tried to execute their plan have been arrested, while the other four are absconding.
The commissioner said the gang first approached Shamna to involve her in gold smuggling. When she refused, its members Harris, Rafeeq and Muhammed Sheriff planned to approach her with a marriage alliance.
"The gang of imposters, which established contact with Shamna Kasim and her family after coming up with a marriage proposal for her, had hatched a plan to kidnap the actress, hold her hostage in a hotel room and demand a huge ransom. But it did not materialise," Sakhare said.
“The gang’s plan got foiled after Shamna approached the police with the complaint about the extortion calls she was receiving,” he added.
The police said the gang had kept several models in their captivity after inviting them for assignments and extorted money from them.
Their success prompted them to go in for a bigger operation and try to extort money from an actress like Shamna, the police said.
The gang members had approached many people in the film industry, including production controller Shaji Pattikkara. They had told him that they were movie producers and obtained the phone numbers of some film artistes, Sakhare said.
The arrested gang members are also accused of keeping eight women, working as models, in their captivity in Palakkad in March and extorting money from them.
The accused who was behind keeping models captive at Wadakkancherry and Walayar in Palakkad to use them for gold smuggling has arrived from the Gulf. The person is COVID-positive and he will be arrested once he gets better, the commissioner said.
The police have registered seven cases against the gang on the basis of separate complaints filed by Shamna and other models.
The police also took Shamna's statement through video-conferencing.
Widening the probe to the Malayalam film industry, the police had on Monday summoned and taken the statements of popular comedian Dharmajan Bolgatty, whom some of the arrested gang members had allegedly contacted during the lockdown.
The police, however, clarified that the film personalities do not have any role in the episode.
The gang's activities were unravelled by the police during their investigations into the complaint lodged by Shamna’s mother about the extortion calls the actress was receiving.
The gang had approached Shamna and her family in April saying they had a marriage alliance for her from a rich family. Later, however, when they started seeking financial help from Shamna, she refused. That’s when the extortion calls started, the complaint said.
The police investigations revealed that the gang had cheated many women by approaching them with ‘marriage alliances’.
A model from Alappuzha, narrating her ordeal with the gang, said that she and at least six other models were kept captive in a hotel in Wadakkancherry for six days without food.
She said a female intermediary from Palarivattom had put her in touch with the gang by saying that she had to approach them for a shoot for a jewellery advertisement.
The model said she still gets calls from the gang threatening her and warning her not to file a case with the police.