Indian MP's 'sex abuse' tapes spark outrage

Indian MP's 'sex abuse' tapes spark outrage
Indian MP's 'sex abuse' tapes spark outrage

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BENGALURU — Thousands of videos allegedly showing an Indian MP sexually abusing women have circulated in the southern state of Karnataka, sparking outrage.

Police are investigating allegations against Prajwal Revanna who is accused of assaulting several women.

Revanna has not commented but an official from his office denied the allegations, saying the videos are doctored.

The influential MP is the grandson of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda.

His father HD Revanna, who is a legislator in the Karnataka state assembly, is also an accused in the police complaint lodged by a former employee of the family. He has denied the allegations, calling them a political conspiracy.

On Monday, their party Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), announced it was suspending Prajwal Revanna. Founded by Gowda, the party is fighting the election in an alliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.

Karnataka's Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah said that a special investigation team (SIT) will look into the case, based on a request by the state's women's commission.

The allegations against Prajwal Revanna came to the fore a day after his constituency Hassan voted in the general election on 26 April. Revanna is the MP from Hassan in the outgoing parliament and is seeking another term.

It's not clear who leaked the videos, but according to a report by the Indian Express newspaper, more than 2,000 pen drives were circulated ahead of the election. The clips, which reports say were shot by Revanna himself, showed the faces of the women he had allegedly abused.

"The pen drives were kept on bus seats, at bus stands and were given to people in public places like parks," an official told the daily. "These pen drives had more than 2,000 files which included videos and photos. After a few hours, we saw these being widely shared on WhatsApp."

Following the incident, Karnataka's women's commission chief Nagalakshmi Chaudhary wrote to the state police chief seeking action against the perpetrators.

"Your blood boils when you see some of the videos," she told the BBC. "There is one woman who is begging... 'please don't, please don't'. You feel sick."

On Sunday, a 47-year-old woman, who worked as a cook for the family and identified herself as a cousin of Revanna's mother, filed a police complaint alleging that she was sexually abused by the MP and his father.

"When I joined, six other maids would say they were scared of Prajwal. The male employees, too, would ask us to be wary of [HD] Revanna and his son Prajwal," she said in her complaint.

"Whenever his wife was away, [HD] Revanna would repeatedly touch me inappropriately, disrobe me and sexually assault me. While I was working in the kitchen, Prajwal would grope me from behind," she added.

The woman said she decided to come forward after watching clips of other victims online.

She also accused Prajwal Revanna of abusing her daughter, and his father of stalking and criminal intimidation.

Police say Prajwal Revanna has left the country, with some reports saying that he is in Germany. But his father has denied the claim and said they were willing to face investigation. "We won't run away scared. We're right here. We'll counter these charges as per the law," he told reporters.

The case has sparked a political storm in Karnataka. Many questioned how someone "accused of such a horrific act" was permitted to leave without questioning.

A state minister wrote on X, formerly Twitter, asking Modi to explain why the alliance had fielded Prajwal Revanna for the election "knowing that hundreds of women had been abused by the candidate".

The comments followed a report by The Hindu newspaper which said that a BJP leader had informed the state leadership about the video clips last year.

A BJP spokesperson told the NDTV news channel, "We, as a party, have nothing to do with the videos and neither do we have any comments on the inquiry."

The JD(S) has also distanced itself from the two politicians. HD Revanna's brother, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, on Monday called them "an embarrassment to society".

"Don't blame the family," he told reporters. "HD Revanna and his family are separate. I don't keep track of his movements."

Senior party leader GT Deve Gowda said party leaders would take disciplinary action against the two men if the charges were proven. — BBC

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