The city police on Tuesday arrested 17 persons, including the prime accused, a 56-year-old lift operator, for aggravated sexual assault on a 11-year-old hearing-impaired girl in an apartment in Ayanavaram. In an unexpected development, lawyers thrashed them when they were produced in a court within the High Court campus. The lawyers did not allow the police to escort the accused out of court.

They were apprehended on a complaint by the girl’s mother, lodged with the All Women Police, Ayanavaram, on Monday. The complaint said the child had been sexually assaulted by multiple men, all service staff in the gated community she lives in, between January 15 and July 5.

It was lift operator Ravikumar who initiated the sexual assault and rape, using isolated places in the apartment complex to commit the offence. He enlisted two friends as accomplices, who assaulted her sexually as well. They reportedly threatened her with knives and with photos and videos showing her naked, preventing her from talking to her family. Subsequently, other staff too started raping her, the complaint said.

Remanded till July 31

The suspects work as service staff in a private firm. They were produced before Mahila Court on Tuesday which remanded them to judicial custody until July 31. Violence ensued as the police tried to escort them out of the court hall.

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