Updated: March 24, 2021 8:07:34 am
A 25-year-old woman, who allegedly featured in a purported sex CD with former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, is on the run, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai told the state Assembly on Monday.
Replying to charges made by the Opposition Congress party that the state government had failed to file a rape case against the former minister and the police failure to find the woman since March 2, the state home minister said: “She is on the run, she is not in one place.”
Bommai told the legislature that a Special Investigation Team is trying to find the woman and other key suspects in the case. Units of the SIT travelled to Goa, Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai, Chennai and Belagavi in an effort to trace the woman, he said.
Two of her male associates – both formerly associated with the media – are also suspected by the SIT to be involved in the sex CD episode that forced the resignation of Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi on March 3. The three have been missing since the emergence of the sex CD in the public domain on March 2 and the filing of a complaint of blackmail and extortion against unnamed persons by the former minister on March 13.
Jarkiholi, in a complaint to the Bengaluru police, has alleged that a fake sex CD featuring him had been put out in the public domain by an organized group with political backing after he rejected blackmail and extortion attempts. He has claimed the CD was being used to defame him and to end his political career.
In a video statement released to the media on March 14, and attributed to the missing woman, it was stated that she did not know how the video made its way into the public domain. It also levelled charges at Jarkiholi.
The father of the missing 25-year-old woman filed a police complaint on March 16 in Belagavi, claiming that his daughter had been abducted and was being forced “into filming fake indecent videos” by her captors.
On Monday, the sex CD episode involving the former BJP minister Jarkiholi and the allegations of sexual harassment against him were raised in the state legislature by the Opposition. The leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, the former chief minister Siddaramaiah demanded that the police file a case of rape under section 376 of the IPC against the former minister Jarkiholi on the basis of a video statement issued by the young woman after the sex CD emerged.
“I demand that a case under section 376 of the IPC be registered and investigated against Ramesh Jarkiholi otherwise no justice can be done for the woman,” Siddaramaiah said.
“All three complaints in the matter must be investigated under the supervision of the Chief Justice of Karnataka by an independent agency for the truth to come out,” the Congress leader said.
The Home Minister, in his reply, said there were two aspects to the alleged sex CD episode – one of moral propriety and a second of criminal conspiracy which the SIT is trying to unravel through a probe.
“We are yet to authenticate the CD (video clip) and as soon as we authenticate it we will file a case under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code,” Bommai said.
Siddaramaiah also demanded resignations of six BJP ministers who obtained a gag order on the media putting out any defamatory videos about them in the wake of the Jarkiholi sex CD episode.
The state KPCC chief D K Shivakumar, who has been linked to the controversy on account of his proximity to one of the two former journalists who are missing along with the woman seen in the CD for the last 20 days, demanded that the police should establish if the sex CD was real or a fake.
A BJP minister S T Somashekhar countered the KPCC chief saying the whole state is waiting to find out who is behind the entire production and release of the sex CD of the former minister.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka high court has disposed a habeas corpus plea filed by the family of Shravan, a missing former television channel video editor. In a habeas corpus plea, Shravan’s father P Surya Kumar claimed that his elder son Chethan had been illegally detained by the police in connection with SIT probe into the alleged sex CD episode of the former BJP minister.
The habeas corpus plea was disposed by the HC after the Bengaluru Police reported that the youth Chethan had been summoned for questioning on three days by issuing notices and that he was not being detained by the police.
The SIT is probing the origin of an unaccounted amount of Rs 20 lakh in the bank account of Chethan around the time of the release of the alleged sex CD. The police are probing if the amount is linked to work allegedly done by his missing brother in producing and distributing the sex CD.
Shravan and former journalist Naresh Gowda – who recentlly attempted to buy a high end car with Rs 40 lakh in cash – are key suspects in the sex CD episode along with the 25-year-old missing woman in whose PG room Rs 9.2 lakh in cash was found.
Former local television journalist Laxipathy, who is also suspected to be involved in the sex CD episode, has moved a sessions court for anticipatory bail. He was previously questioned by the SIT over his role in handing over the alleged sex CD to social activist Dinesh Kallahalli on March 1. Kallahalli filed a police complaint against Jarkiholi on March 2.
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