THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala police arrested tattoo artist Sujeesh P S late on Saturday night from his hideout in Kochi following a series of sexual assault complaints against him.
Confirming this, Kochi police commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam said 6 cases have been registered against him. He had been absconding for the last 4 days after an 18-year-old girl took to social media to narrate her bitter experience at the tattoo studio last week. The commissioner said police expect more complaints against him and a special investigation team will be formed.
“So far, we have registered 6 cases. After allegations surfaced, he closed his studio and absconded. Our teams were monitoring his movements and tracked him down on Saturday night,” he said.
The allegations cropped up on social media last week after an 18-year-old girl posted her bitter experience at the studio titled “I can’t feel.” Her Reddit post was widely circulated on other social media platforms and a flurry of complaints surfaced alleging molestation and ill-treatment at the hands of the same person. Police raided his studio on Saturday and seized laptops, CCTV visuals and other records. He was booked under Section 375 (rape) and Section 509 (insulting modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Initially many victims refused to file complaints but later they came around after the commissioner ensured them protection and confidentiality.
Police also inspected all tattoo studios in the port city and collected details of employees and their antecedents. Police said some of the complaints against Sujeesh are 3 to 4 years old but they will collect scientific evidence.
Narrating her bitter tale, the victim said she went to the studio to get a tattoo a week ago. Since the studio was crowded, she sought some privacy. As the tattooing was in progress, the artist allegedly started making advances, and when she protested, he raped her after putting a needle on her spine, she claimed in her post. “I never thought the man will have the audacity to do something like this. I did not speak a word. I just felt like dying right there on the spot for being so stupid. I felt disgusted,” she wrote.
Kochi police said the accused is a popular tattoo artist, and he often shared his images with cinema artists and other VIPs to attract clientele. Starting in a small way, he flourished in the last five years after tattoos became a big fad among youngsters. They said he has over 52,000 followers on social media and his Instagram account was not functioning after the complaint surfaced. After the survivors refused to file complaints saying “shaming will do” many women’s rights activists have appealed to them to come out and lodge complaints against the artist.