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Political storm over ‘pimp’

Thiruvananthapuram, July 25: The arrest of a key suspect in a blackmailing racket involving call girls and pimps has raised political temperatures in Kerala after media reports said he was nabbed from the MLA hostel here.

Jayachandran was allegedly part of a Kochi-based gang that provided call girls to the rich and influential, secretly filmed the clients and blackmailed them. The victims are said to include businessmen, film personalities and politicians, including a senior leader from Delhi.

The reports said the suspect was staying in a room allotted on July 9 at the request of state Congress general secretary T. Sarath Chandra Prasad.

Prasad has denied any link with Jayachandran and said he knew him only as an event manager. He said he did not know whether the suspect had stayed in the room.

Reports quoting Prasad said he had instructed the hostel officials to hand over the key to a party colleague, Sunil Kottarakkara.

Jayachandran was arrested on July 23 and whisked off to Kochi. R. Nishanthini, Kochi deputy commissioner of police, told reporters Jayachandran had not been arrested from the MLA hostel but from a different location in the state capital.

She wouldn’t say whether the suspect had stayed in the MLA hostel in the days before the arrest.

An apparent suicide last month by an NRI businessman, allegedly threatened with exposure by the gang if he didn’t pay up, blew the lid off the racket and led to the arrest of two women, a high court lawyer and a fourth person. All got bail after the police failed to argue strongly against relief.

One of the accused women then told a local channel the businessman had been murdered and hung from the ceiling. It forced the police to resume investigations, which provided fresh leads about Jayachandran.

Reports say police tracked his mobile and noticed calls originating from and around the MLA hostel. With Speaker G. Karthikeyan’s permission, a team of Kochi cops searched the hostel.

The Left and the BJP have held marches and demanded a probe. But TV reports that Jayachandran was once a member of the CPM student wing has embarrassed the comrades.

The Congress is abuzz with rumours linking the arrest to an intra-party feud. Prasad is said to be close to home minister Ramesh Chennithala’s camp, which is opposed to chief minister Oommen Chandy’s cabinet rejig plans.