Justice Markandey Katju: The fall of the last fig leaf of Indian politics

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

A massive sex scandal in India  is making waves all around the length and breadth of the country—in newspaper headlines, on TV, and on social media.

Briefly, the scandal relates to Prajwal Revanna, the 33-year old grandson of HD Deve Gowda, a 91-year-old former Indian Prime Minister and leader of the JDS (Janta Dal Secular), a regional political party in the State of Karnataka, which is presently in alliance with the BJP. Prajwal’s father HD Revanna is a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and a former minister.

His uncle HD Kumarswamy is a former Chief Minister of the state. Prajwal is presently a sitting member of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), and he is again contesting in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from his family’s home seat of Hassan.

The election in Hassan was held on 26th April. A few days before the election, a large number of identical pen drives were thrown overnight by unknown persons all over Hassan– in bus stations, railway stations, bazaars, tea stalls, streets, garbage dumps, and homes of people.

These pen drives contain 2,976 videos showing Prajwal sexually assaulting hundreds of women, including panchayat members, police women, government employees, and housewives. Many of these videos are obscene, lecherous, and disgusting. Women can be seen tearfully pleading to be let go, but none dared to report it to the police for fear of their lives (as Prajwal’s family is rich and powerful) or for fear of dishonour.

The background in many of these videos is a store room in Prajwal’s house, and his clothes which he often wears can be seen. It seems Prajwal himself recorded many of these videos, while some were recorded by an assistant. The Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women has called it the greatest sex scandal in India.

Despite widespread circulation of these videos a few days before the election on 26th April, Prajwal went around brazenly campaigning and asking for votes till the 25th April, but he disappeared thereafter, and he is reported to have fled to Germany.

Subsequently, a maid of Prajwal gathered courage and filed an FIR (first information report) before the police. She had been repeatedly raped by Prajwal, but being poor and helpless remained silent about it, but when Prajwal tried to sexually assault her daughter too this was too much for her to bear.

Thereafter more women came forward and filed FIRs. A former member of a panchayat alleged that she was offered several allurements by Prajwal to have sex with him, but when she refused, he threatened to shoot her. He raped her repeatedly for 3 years. Other women complained of blackmail by Prajwal, who threatened to leak their pictures in lewd state unless they surrendered to his demands. Daily new allegations are coming in this connection.

One woman complained to Prajwal’s father HD Revanna about Prajwal’s misdeeds, but instead of reprimanding his son he too allegedly sexually assaulted her. Who distributed these pen drives (which can be seen on the social media)? The most common belief is that it was Prajwal’s estranged ex driver Kartik, while some attribute it to a political rival G Devraj Gowda, a member of the BJP.

A SIT (special investigation team) has been set up by the Karnataka government to investigate the scandal. Apart from the specific facts of the case, the more significant thing is that it shows how politicians in India can get away with the most horrendous and outrageous crimes with impunity. Now many people are saying that Prajwal’s lascivious, lustful, and perverted nature was widely known in Hassan, but no one dared to speak publicly about it for fear of his family’s retribution. Had it not been for the revelation by the pen drive, he too may have got away with it.

G Devraj Gowda, to whom Kartik allegedly gave the pen drive, said he wrote to the BJP higher ups in Bangalore and Delhi about it, but they remained mum. This reflects adversely on the BJP which had waxed eloquent on their theme ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’, but Prime Minister Modi was often seen in videos with Prajwal and his entire family, and canvassed for him.

This incident, and the recent Electoral Bonds scam, has removed the last fig leaf from the body of Indian politics.

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