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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Sex abuse probe on ex-PM HD Deve Gowda’s kin, Karnataka government forms SIT

Many of the video clips found their way to social media groups, leaving the BJP-JDS in a state of panic on how to deal with the situation amid the general election

K.M. Rakesh Bengaluru Published 29.04.24, 05:43 AM
HD Deve Gowda.

HD Deve Gowda. File Photo.

The Karnataka government on Sunday constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe allegations of sexual abuse against former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda's son H.D. Revanna, the Holenarasipura MLA, and grandson Prajwal Revanna, MP from Hassan.

Prajwal is said to have fled to Germany after the controversy broke although neither his party, the JDS, nor the police have confirmed anything about his whereabouts.

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The SIT was formed after the state women’s commission demanded a probe following a former domestic help's police complaint against father and son, dealing a severe blow to the BJP-JDS combine just days ahead of the May 7 polling in Karnataka.

The two legislators were named in a complaint lodged by their former cook, who accused them of sexual harassment at their home in Hassan, where she briefly worked in 2015.

The SIT will also probe video clips that allegedly show Prajwal engaged in forced sex amounting to rape. The video clips were part of a collection of hundreds of such visuals discovered in pen drives that had been discarded at bus stops and parks in Hassan ahead of the April 26 polls in which Prajwal was a candidate.

Many of the video clips found their way to social media groups, leaving the BJP-JDS in a state of panic on how to deal with the situation amid the general election.

The SIT is headed by the additional director-general of police, CID, B.K. Singh, who had earlier cracked the murders of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist scholar M.M. Kalburgi.

Revanna and Prajwal, the first and second accused in the case based on the cook’s complaint, have been booked under IPC Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (deliberately insulting a woman’s modesty by offensive words, gesture, or action).

Poornachandra Tejaswi, a JDS leader, has lodged a police complaint alleging that a man named Naveen Gowda was behind the circulation of the “morphed” video clips.

Hassan is the only seat the JDS won in 2019. The party is now part of the NDA after joining hands with the BJP in September 2023.

Karnataka State Commission for Women chief Nagalakshmi Choudhary on Saturday assured protection to all the alleged victims seen in the clips. “I also request all the victims to come forward and cooperate with the police. I assure them their identities will not be revealed,” she said.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah said the SIT had been formed because of the nature of the case. “Obscene video clips are circulating in Hassan district, where it appears that women have been sexually assaulted. Against this background, the chairperson of the women’s commission had written a letter to the government to conduct an SIT investigation. This decision has been taken in response to their request,” he commented on X.

Prajwal’s paternal uncle and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy indicated that the party would not defend anyone who has “committed a mistake”.

“We won’t forgive anyone who has committed a mistake,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Asked if Prajwal had fled the country, Kumaraswamy said: “I don’t know. An SIT has been formed. It is their duty to go abroad and bring him back (if he has fled).”

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