A popular Malayalam film actress was abducted for a while on her way from Thrissur to Kochi on Friday night by some people, who reportedly took pictures of her to blackmail her, police said on Saturday.
Her former driver is a suspect in the case and has been taken into custody, police said While the victim's statement has now been recorded before a magistrate, the police probe team has zeroed down on six others who were in the gang, of which three have been already identified, while three others are yet to be identified.
Earlier in the day, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra said they have identified those behind the 'kidnap' of the actress near Kochi.
Speaking to the media in the state capital, Behra said that a joint investigation team has been formed to track down those behind the crime.
"We know who are behind this and we will very quickly arrest all of them and get to the bottom of the truth," said Behra.
The probe team is being supervised led by ADGP B. Sandhya, with IG of Police Dhinendra Kashyap as the key investigation officer.
Nedumbassery police have registered a case relevant sections for kidnapping and molestation.
According to police, her former driver is believed to be part of a gang of six behind the incident.
The hugely popular actress after a shoot on Friday night was on way from Thrissur to Kochi to take part in the dubbing of her new film directed by director and actor Lal.
While on way, a car hit her vehicle from behind, following which an argument erupted. The passengers of the other car forcefully entered her car and drove off with the actress.
She was held hostage for two hours when the gang took pictures of the actress to blackmail her for money, reports said.
"The gang behind the incident is from the film industry and involved in various production jobs," police said.
Police, after tracing the call list, have zeroed down on the actress' former driver, who was thrown out after she came to know of his criminal background. He is believed to be the main culprit.
After being held hostage by the criminal gang, the actress managed to reach the home of Lal, who informed police.
Speaking to reporters, Lal said he has been advised by the police probe team not to speak about the incident as it would hamper their investigation.
The actress for some time was not having the best of relations with a group in the Malayalam film industry, and the group had scuttled a few good roles that she was offered, according to reports.
Police are looking into all aspects of the incident and will probe if this was a planned move against the actress.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is currently in Delhi, told reporters there that police are doing their job and will certainly arrest those responsible.
Lok Sabha member Innocent, President of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, told reporters that he had tried to get in touch with Vijayan over the incident.
He said police chief Behra had assured him that all behind the incident would be arrested.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala, currently on a day-long protest at his home constituency near Alappuzha over the "sudden deterioration" of the law and order situation in the state, expressed shock over the incident.
"If this is the plight of a celebrity, what can one say about ordinary people? This is really shocking," said Chennithala, a former state Home Minister.