Amidst the uproar about police brutality in Tamil Nadu, a shocking case indicating police apathy at best and collusion with criminal elements at worst has come to light in Kerala.
A gang recently tried to extort money from Shamna Kasim, also known as Poorna, a film actress based out of Kochi. The 12 member gang was led by one Mohammad Sharief. He and six other gang members – Rafeeq Mohammed, Asharaf Saidu Mohammed, Abdul Salam, Aboobacker, Sarath Sadasivan and Ramesh Krishnan – have already been arrested, while 4 remain at large. Kochi DCP J. Poonkuzhali has promised more arrests in the case.
Details of the Shamna Kasim case
The details of the case remain sketchy. It has been revealed by Shamna herself on her Facebook page that the criminals hatched a plot and approached Shamna with a marriage proposal pretending to be from a renowned family. Apparently, they “…were cheated with fake names, fake addresses, deceitful identities with a marriage proposal.” They later asked her to lend them some money upon which she grew suspicious and her parents complained to the police. Allegedly, they also tried to blackmail and even made an attempt to kidnap her.
Incidentally, on March 17th a couple of models had approached the Ernakulam police complaining that they had been duped by criminals of cash and ornaments. They were first lured to a hotel in Palakkad under the pretext of shooting for an ad film. They were then locked up in the hotel rooms and were given food just once a day for eight days.
The gang members wanted the girls to smuggle gold from Gulf countries in exchange for their freedom. When they refused, they were offered money to act as escorts for the gang members to transport hawala money to Malappuram. This was also refused by the women. It was then that the gang extorted money and ornaments before setting them free.
The victims alleged that when they approached the Ernakulam police, they were told them to file a complaint with the Palakkad police, since the incident had occurred there. It has now emerged that the same gang which tried to extort money from Shamna Kasim had targeted these models.
Police laxity and possible collusion
Once the Shamna Kasim case came up, the same police promptly called up the models and asked them for more details. Why they didn’t do so in March is anybody’s guess. This casts a doubt on the seriousness of Kerala police in dealing with such gangs.
When Shamna’s complaint came up, the police correctly guessed that it would draw public attention, since a celebrity was involved. Therefore, it took prompt action. However, it shows the differential attitude of the Kerala Police towards ordinary citizens as opposed to VIP ones.
The main accused Sharief had also appeared in TikTok videos, which showed him sitting on top of police vehicles which further raises suspicion of collusion with the local police. It is also learnt that Sharief used these videos to his influence his victims
The models, who are mostly from poor Hindu families, needed protection much more than Shamna Kasim who, being an established actress, could have afforded private security. However, allegedly due to lack of protection even after receiving multiple threats, the victims of extortion are now not ready to press charges. Various experts on TV, including from the film industry, have not spoken anything about the poor models.
No one even in the media has held the police accountable. Shamna Kasim herself praises the police in her Facebook post. The pertinent question is: had the police actually done their duty in the first place, would this gang have continued to act with such impunity?
CPM leader make excuses
When asked why ordinary ladies had no security while in cases of VIPs, the police jumps immediately into action, Kanathil Jameela, a leader of ruling CPIM, said that in March the police were ‘busy with COVID duties’. The fact is that as of March 17th, there were only a handful of COVID19 cases in Kerala. Anyway, is it acceptable for a public representative to say that police will not take cognizance of serious crimes like kidnapping and extortion due to the pandemic?
In a shameful attempt to escape responsibility, she also added that had such an incident happened in Uttar Pradesh, the local police would not have even registered a case!
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