Karnataka: Man arrested for raping tribal minor in Hubballi, ABVP stages protest

The incident came to light when the 17-year-old girl fell sick and the hospital found her pregnant.
Representative image of a woman's silhouette against the sunset
Representative image of a woman's silhouette against the sunset
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A 19-year-old man has been arrested in Hubballi district of Karnataka for allegedly raping a minor, who belongs to a Scheduled Tribe, over four months. According to the complaint filed by the 17-year-old girl’s mother, the girl was assaulted between January 1 and May 3. The alleged assault came to light after the girl fell sick on April 29. The family took her to KIMS hospital, where the doctors found her pregnant.

In her complaint, the victim's mother said that her daughter had known the accused, Saddam Hussein, when she was in school but lost touch after that. They came in contact again when she began attending pre-university college. She said that they used to meet every now and then and were in a relationship. 

According to the complaint, Saddam made sexual advances despite the girl’s insistence that they should first convince their parents to get married as they belonged to different communities. She said that he disregarded her refusal, and raped her. “Even before this, he has forced himself on me several times. I did not tell anyone in my family about it because he threatened to kill me if I did,” the complaint noted, adding that on May 3, he called her and hurled casteist abuse at her.

Hubballi-Dharwad police arrested Saddam, who reportedly stabbed the police. The police resorted to shooting him in the leg. Police Commissioner Renuka Sukumar told the media that the police had received a medico-legal case report from a hospital about a minor who was pregnant, after which the police registered cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and POCSO Act. 

The issue took a political turn after the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), began making claims of “love jihad” and staged a protest outside APMC Navanagar Police Station on Friday, May 3, demanding justice for the girl. ‘Love jihad’ refers to a bogus claim made by the Hindu right wing that Muslim men are ‘luring’ Hindu women into marriages to convert them to Islam.

The BJP too has taken up the issue, repeating claims of “love jihad”. The party and the president of the state BJP BY Vijayendra put up posts on social media claiming that “love jihad” is being carried out in the state. 

This incident comes two weeks after the murder of Neha Hiremath, who was murdered in Hubballi by her former classmate. The BJP has been using this issue electorally, with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah claiming in rallies that Neha’s murder was a case of “love jihad”. 

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