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Kidnap-and-film racket

- Medical students forced into sexual acts for blackmail

Bangalore, Dec. 22: A gang of eight was arrested in Mangalore yesterday morning on the charge of kidnapping two medical students, forcing them into sexual acts and filming the scenes to blackmail the couple and extort money.

A police team raided the gang’s den and freed the boy, who had by then spent three nights in captivity while his female friend was ostensibly arranging for the ransom.

The accused had chanced upon the young couple, students of a private medical college, outside a restaurant on Mangalore city’s outskirts around 11.30 on Wednesday night.

After their dinner, the couple had been chatting at the car park near the restaurant in Yenepoya, home to three medical colleges. They were allegedly surrounded, bundled into the male student’s car, blindfolded and driven to a secluded spot.

There, the gang ordered the couple to make out and assaulted them when they refused. The area, within 20km of the Kerala border, has a hilly and forested terrain and is thinly populated.

Mangalore police commissioner R. Hitendra said the students complied after the gang brandished machetes and other crude weapons. The accused took pictures on their mobile phone cameras.

Then the gang allegedly demanded Rs 25 lakh, threatening to post the video on the Internet and send copies to their college principal and parents if the money was not paid. The couple agreed to pay Rs 3 lakh, to which the gang agreed.

Hitendra said the gang released the girl to fetch the money while holding the boy as hostage. The girl, however, approached a lawyer who helped her lodge a complaint. All the eight members of the gang were arrested during the police raid.

Police officers said that one of the gang members faced 12 cases of armed robbery in Mangalore alone. Three others too had criminal cases against them.

The mobile phones of the accused have been seized. Experts from the police’s cyber cell have been scouring the Internet to make sure the video clips have not found their way to porn sites.

Officers declined to reveal the names of the suspects but said an identification parade would be held tomorrow. The accused face charges of kidnapping, assault, blackmail and extortion.