Seven blackmailers in police custody

All accused are first time offenders

The suspects were identified as Maruti (31) from Banashankari, Balaji (28), Sathya (27) both from Jayanagar, Ashok (28), Wilson Garden, Varun Kumar (27), Kodihalli, M Vinayak (35), Chamarajpet and Shekhar (36) from Azadnagar. The police recovered Rs one lakh cash and cheques for Rs six lakh and other documents.

The victim Srinivas Reddy moved to Bangalore from Hyderabad five years ago and settled down in Mahalakshmi Layout. He runs Sri Venkateshwara International Education Society, an academic admission consultancy firm. He charges a commission from students seeking admissions in better academic institutions and ensures seats in such institutions.

Around 40 employees serve in Reddy’s institution, police said. At an interview to fill up a vacancy in December last year, Vanaja, girlfriend of Varun Kumar, performed well. Reddy asked her to report for duties the next day. As she was leaving Reddy shook hands with her. At that point of time, Maruti, Sathya, Balaji and Varun Kumar barged inside.

Alleged sexual harassment

They alleged that Reddy was misbehaving with Vanaja. They alleged that Reddy harassed her sexually, assaulted him and left. A few days later, they called Reddy over for a discussion at Hotel Kanishka. They threatened to complain that he had subjected Vanaja to sexual harassment and defame him. They demanded hush money of Rs 3.5 lakh. Scared, Reddy paid up. In April, Maruti and Sathya informed Ashok about the incident and his associates - M Vinayak and Shekhar hatched a conspiracy to rob Reddy again.

They contacted Reddy and claimed that they were Vanaja’s brothers. They called him over to Hotel Kanishka from where they took him to the office of a political party in Chamarajpet and locked him up in a room.

They released Reddy after collecting Rs two lakh, six cheques for Rs six lakh, blank stamp papers with Reddy’s signature on them and on demand letters. One of the suspects’ friends is a political leader in Chamarajpet, but is in no way connected with the incident, police said. On a complaint from Reddy, police arrested all the seven suspects who are small time businessmen and first time offenders.

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