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BJP leader booked for 'assaulting and stripping' tribal woman

In her police complaint, the 35-year-old has accused Chennakeshava and eight others of attacking her with sticks
Representational image.
Representational image.

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 26.04.22, 12:53 AM

A BJP leader has been booked along with eight others for allegedly assaulting and stripping a tribal woman in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district over a property row.

The 35-year-old Adivasi woman has in her police complaint accused Chennakeshava, president of the BJP’s Dakshina Kannada ST Morcha, and others of attacking her with sticks, stripping her in full public view and filming the entire incident on mobile phones on April 19.


While the police took another two days to file the FIR, no arrests have been made yet.

The accused, including four women, have been identified as Sandeep, Santhosh, Gulabi, Suguna, Kusuma, Lokayya, Anil, Lalitha, and Chennakeshava.

A property issue allegedly triggered the incident at Ujire village in Belthangady taluk.

The victim and her husband along with their two minor children live with her sister.

While the victim was earlier allotted a plot of land to build a house under a government scheme for the landless, there was some discrepancy in the allotment number.

The piece of land allotted to her was also allotted to another person, apparently due to some official oversight.

While local revenue officials had earlier visited the site to sort out the issue, the BJP leader and the eight accused — all party sympathisers — came out in support of the other person to whom the land was allotted.

This led to an argument on April 19 between the victim and the BJP team.

Lawyer and Belthangady taluk CPM secretary B.M. Bhat, who has been helping the victim, told The Telegraph on Monday that the argument led to the victim getting assaulted and disrobed. “The video clip proves that the women stripped her while the men encouraged them to do so,” said Bhat.

He said the police were reluctant to register a case. “They registered an FIR only after we forced them to do so on April 21. But even then they did not arrest any of the accused although they were all available at their homes until Saturday. I understand that they have all gone absconding since yesterday (Sunday),” Bhat said.

“Anyone with no political clout would have been arrested by now,” he added.

The accused have been booked under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons), 504 (intentionally insulting a person knowing it could break public peace), 354 (disrobing a woman), 354B (assault, abetment, use of criminal force on a woman), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 149 (unlawful assembly with common object).

The victim, whose name is being withheld considering the nature of the case, told reporters that she wasn’t expecting such an act of violence. “They even assaulted my 16-year-old nephew who rushed to my help when they started stripping me in full public view,” she said, demanding the arrest of the accused.

“No woman should ever face such a humiliation again,” she said, vowing to fight for justice.

Eshwari Padmaja, general secretary of Dalit Hakku Rakshana Samithi (Dalit rights protection forum), on Monday told this newspaper that the organisation would hold a protest on Wednesday if the accused were not arrested by then.

“We will hold a protest outside the Mini Vidhana Soudha (the taluk office complex) in Belthangady. We will scale up the protest to the district and state level if the accused are still not arrested.”

She noted how atrocities against Dalits and tribal people had increased since the BJP came to power in the country.

“We all know how women, Dalits and Adivasis are treated like animals in Uttar Pradesh and other northern states. But it’s a serious problem when such incidents happen in Dakshina Kannada, which is considered as the district of the educated.”

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