Porn Clips Muddy The Waters In Karnataka

Porn Clips Muddy The Waters In Karnataka

Rashme SehgalUpdated: Monday, May 06, 2024, 11:12 AM IST
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The air in Bengaluru is ripe with rumours. Did former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda's grandson Prajwal Revanna, the BJP-JDS alliance's candidate from Hasan in Karnataka allegedly have sex with nearly 3,000 women as recorded in the pen drive in circulation in the capital city?

Was this pen drive a miniscule part of a much larger underground pornographic industry, known to thrive in southern states and in which politicians are known to have financial interests?

Was the issue of the sleazy videos (already in circulation for months befor the LS election) raked up deliberately to embarrass Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP?

Dr Nagalakshmi Chaudhary, chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Women has jumped into the controversy by saying, "The day this video came to my table, I immediately forwarded it to CM Siddaramaiah. I then organised a press meeting (April 25th) to warn the public such a video should not be put in the public domain, given the sensitivity of the victims whose faces are often visible. The Election was held in Karnataka on April 26th. I understand Prajwal Revanna cast his vote on 26th and left for Germany. He is reported to be in Munich."

On May 7, an election for the remaining 14 of the 28 seats will be held.

So far, three complaints have been made, the first by a 47-year-old woman from Hassan who lodged a complaint against the father-son duo for allegedly sexually harassing her and her daughter between 2019 and 2022. This complaint was made at the Holenarsipura police station on April 28th. Another complaint was lodged with the SIT by a former panchayat member who accused the father-son duo of holding her at gunpoint after threatening to kill her husband and then proceeding to rape her. Her husband worked as a former aide of Prajwal.

What Dr Nagalakshmi Choudhary finds especially shocking is that, "Prajwal did not hesitate to record these selfies while having sex with the women. This is disturbing. What kind of a man is he?" she asked. The problem is most women in the videos have chosen to go underground and do not want to come forward and give evidence before the SIT.

Bengaluru-based feminist activist Madhu Bhushan, member of SIEDS said, "Women are reluctant to come forward because the Gowdas are a powerful political family. Also, if they do, it will be a shame and horror for their families. They are scared. That is why so many of them have gone underground or just left the city."

It is for this reason a group of woman NGOs have decided to come together and undertake a low-key investigation by meeting the women individually, recording their evidence in their homes, and then putting it together in a report.

"No identities will be revealed and they will not be asked to come into the public domain to give any evidence. We will submit this report to SIT," said Sumithra Acharya, a Bengaluru-based advocate, who works with acid attack victims and their rehabilitation. Bengaluru-based Congress activist and entrepreneur Dipali Sikand believes the videos have only served to muddy the reputation of the state.

"The videos are so morbid... It is completely unacceptable. It shows how people in power victimise women," said Sikand.

Back in December 2023, Karnataka BJP leader Devaraje Gowda from Hassan allegedly warned the state leadership about allegations that Prajwal was sexually abusing women. In a letter, purportedly to state party chief BY Vijayendra, he wanted the matter to be brought to the attention of national leaders. But Gowda's letter was ignored.

Political analysts believe the videos were reportedly used by BJP to arm twist JDS to enter into an alliance with them. BJP is now trying to distance itself from the controversy with Karnataka BJP president BY Vijayendra stating his party has nothing to do with allegations against Prajwal, and his party does not interfere with the selection of candidates of their alliance partners.

But former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, Dr.Roop Rekha, who has organised a hashtag petition against Prajwal calling for his immediate arrest, said, "This government is known to give its tacit support to alleged rapists. Take the case of BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharma. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by woman wrestlers, but no action has been taken. Instead, the party has fielded his son Karan Bhushan Singh from Kaiserganj in UP or take the case of the BHU woman student who was stripped and raped and the accused rapists video-recorded it. It happened on November 1st but what punishment has been meted out to the criminals?" asked Dr Roop Rekha.

The writer is an author and an independent journalist

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