A special police team on Thursday took into custody three persons in connection with a sex racket that operated in rural areas of the district. Investigators said Shafi Mohammed, Sabir, and Junais were taken into custody by a team led by Superintendent of Police (Kozhikode rural) P.H. Ashraf and Deputy Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) P.K. Raju on their arrival at the Calicut airport in the morning.

However, their arrest had not been recorded, said Jaison K. Abraham, Dy.SP. (Thamarassery), who is investigating the case.

The police had so far arrested five persons, including a woman, in connection with the case. One of the suspects, Ansar, had reportedly fled to Sharjah. The case related to a complaint filed by a 16-year-old girl that she was a victim of a nine-member sex racket operating at Peruvannamoozhi and Pantheerikkara in the district. This gang was also allegedly behind the mysterious death of a Class X student of her school recently. Previously, the police had closed the case as a suicide. The police said some of the suspects had escaped to the Gulf after the incident came to light.

Two of them had escaped to Doha, Qatar, on a Taktal passport a week ago, while another had been in Qatar for a month.

The police had issued a lookout circular against them at all international gateways. Their names and address had also been communicated to all embassies, including those in Gulf Cooperation Council nations. Soon afterwards, the police obtained information that the suspects had escaped to Qatar. Their names and photographs were passed on to non-resident Indian associations and Kerala Pravasi organisations. The photographs were beamed on television and posted on social media.

This helped Indians there identify the suspects. Qatar has a sizeable Malayali population and many incidentally are from the Vadakara region. Subsequently, the suspects were detained by the residents and handed over to law-enforcing agencies in Qatar and deported with the assistance of the Qatari police and the Indian Embassy, Mr. Raju said.

Mr. Abraham said the role of each suspect was still hazy. They were being interrogated and their statements corroborated with the versions given by the witnesses. Their involvement in the case was being ascertained, he said. At least one of them had sexually abused the girls and the others had taken photographs of the victims and threatened them with dire consequences.

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