If Prajwal Revanna isn’t punished, he will do this again: Rape survivor’s sister speaks up

The family of a Mysuru woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna, and kidnapped by his father HD Revanna, wants the father and son punished.
Prajwal Revanna
Prajwal Revanna

The punishment given to Prajwal Revanna should be such that he should never be able to go about with his head held high, says Mala (name changed). It was only a few days ago that she was told by her family that her sister Mridula* was in the 3,000-odd video clips that were allegedly recorded by Prajwal, JD(S) Hassan MP and NDA candidate. But even before the family realised that Mridula was one of the victims, she had been taken away by a henchman and relative of the Revanna family — Satish Babanna.  

It was only a couple of days later when relatives and friends told Mridula’s son about the videos that they realised what had happened to her: She had been sexually assaulted and videographed years ago and now kidnapped.

Mridula and her husband worked in Prajwal’s father HD Revanna’s Gannikada farm in Holenarasipura as farm hands for six years. They quit three years ago and returned to work in their village in Mysuru district to take care of one of their daughters who was pregnant. “Even after leaving the job, she never told anyone about the assault. Maybe she feared that we would blame her. But she was raped. She didn’t do anything wrong, but people will think it was her fault. We don’t know how to face people even though we did nothing wrong,” Mala said, breaking down. Mala and her husband were also working for HD Revanna, but on another farm that belonged to the family in Kamenahalli in Holenarasipura. HD Revanna has been the Holenarasipura MLA for 24 years and is the son of JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. 

Satish was arrested on May 3 and the police rescued Mridula on May 4 and took her to Bengaluru. Later that day, they arrested Revanna after the court rejected his anticipatory bail application. Prajwal is absconding despite the Special Investigation Team (SIT) having issued two lookout notices for him over the allegations. The women who were sexually assaulted include members of his party, the JD(S), and public officials. 

The last time the family saw her on April 24, Mridula left with Satish and returned on voting day. He turned up again a couple of days later at 9 pm and insisted that she accompany him as HD Revanna had called her to ask about a police case she was supposedly involved in. This was a day after the first case against Revanna and Prajwal was registered.

When the family tried to reach her, Satish tried to scare them and claimed that the police had arrested her and that they would have to arrange for bail. It was only on May 1 that relatives and friends of Mridula’s son told him about the videos in which his mother could be seen being raped. That's when the family realised that she had been kidnapped and filed a complaint with the KR Nagara police on May 2.

The videos were uploaded on pen drives by Prajwal’s political rivals and placed at public places like parks, railway stations, bus stops and even shops across Hassan district. The videos were distributed days before elections were held in Hassan on April 26. BJP and JD(S) have both been questioned about the videos because Prajwal is the NDA’s candidate for the Hassan seat. 

The 3000-odd explicit videos, allegedly taken by Prajwal, feature scores of women, their faces visible, causing them and their families immense trauma. These videos soon made their way to messaging platforms and social media. Many Instagram handles have uploaded screenshots from the videos, celebrating as if the women were ‘trophies’, ignoring the visuals of assault and the power structure that allows men to commit such crimes. 

Read: Who spread unblurred videos of women? SIT probe on Prajwal Revanna must find 

Mala returned to her village on Monday, April 29, to attend the village deity, Kariyamma Doddamma’s festival. “We thought we would head back after the mutton oota (the mutton feast the day after the festival). We didn’t know all this happened to my sister,” Mala said when TNM visited her house. 

She knew little about Revanna or Prajwal and mostly approached Revanna’s wife Bhavani for anything if at all she had to. “We are poor and we needed work, so when Satish Babanna offered a job, we accepted. Who would have thought that something like this was happening there…” It was through Satish, who also hails from the same village, that they got work in Revanna’s house.

Mridula’s family does not fear Revanna now that she has been found, even though they are traumatised. They belong to the Vishwakarma caste and live in a small two-room building with unplastered brick walls. The Vishwakarma community is categorised under category 2A (Relatively More Backward) of the Other Backward Classes, while Vokkaligas are categorised under 3A (Backward) of the OBC. They spoke to TNM but refused to give their names, fearing it would be splashed all over the media. Police have been posted outside Mala and Mridula’s houses since the evening of May 2, after the case was registered.

Asked if they feared Revanna’s family, a 20-year-old relative of Mridula’s said that their family was anxious when they didn’t know her whereabouts and couldn’t reach her on the phone. “Now that she has been found, we’re okay. If we were going to be scared, we wouldn’t have filed a complaint.”

Mala is worried about being out of work. “I don’t know how we will find jobs afterwards. We have loans to repay.” The family borrowed Rs 3 lakh from the village leader and Rs 2 lakh from acquaintances for her daughter’s wedding in February – the last time she saw her sister – and the pregnancy of another daughter. 

She said that the neighbours were curious about why there was a police van near their house. “People have seen the videos but they don’t know she is my sister. They probably think that someone in our family committed a crime.”

The fear that the Revanna’s family invokes in Hassan district is absent in this village, which is about 20 km from the Hassan border and 1.5 hours from Holenarasipura.

Satish is known as ‘Meese Babanna’ in the village, famous for his moustache like his father ‘Meese Narasimhanna’. “Satish used to brag about being Revanna’s relative,” said a resident of the village. He refused to tell us his name.

Despite this, Revanna’s name does not carry much heft in the village. Political support is split between the Congress and JD(S). The Vokkaligas are numerically dominant and back the JD(S) while other communities such as Kurubas, Naiks, and Dalits — who live together near the Vokkaliga houses — back the Congress.

Satish moved to another area in Mysuru district called KR Nagara over 10 years ago but his mother still lived in the village. When TNM visited the house on May 5, it was closed and we were told that his mother had left for KR Nagara just the day before.

Satish Babanna's house. It was locked when TNM visited
Satish Babanna's house. It was locked when TNM visited

Most of the shop owners TNM spoke to were Vokkaligas who ran their business in the commercial area of the village. The farmers’ leader, who is also a Vokkaliga, said Satish owned agricultural land in the village, and visited often.

Place from where Satish was arrested.
Place from where Satish was arrested.

The vegetable shop owner too is a JD(S) supporter but is disgusted by what the videos contain. “We supported JD(S) because they’re Vokkaligas, but what Prajwal Revanna did was wrong. He has ruined our name. Such a person shouldn’t have become an MP,” he said. He spoke freely but declined to give his name. 

Mridula’s family meanwhile is struggling to make sense of what has happened. “We don’t know how to deal with this. We don’t know what to say to each other. We avoid talking because we think it will make the other person cry. The house has become like a graveyard,” Mala says.

There is one thing that all the family members agree on: Prajwal and his father Revanna should be held accountable. “They should be punished. They should never be able to hold their heads up and go about. What happened to us, shouldn’t happen to anyone else. If they aren’t punished, they will do this again,” says Mala.

Our coverage of this case can be accessed here.

*- Name changed.

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