POCSO case against BS Yediyurappa: Minor’s family breaks silence

After the death of his mother, a 25-year-old man has decided to continue the fight she started, including pursuing a case against former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa for allegedly sexually assaulting his 17-year-old sister.
BS Yediyurappa
BS YediyurappaShambhavi Thakur
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Gaurav’s (name changed) most cherished memory of his mother is from when he was about 12 years old, when she used to wake him up early in the morning for his basketball classes. He remembers her as the kind of parent who would steadfastly support her son’s interests, even if they were unconventional. The events of the next few years however overshadowed those good memories, as he watched his mother change beyond recognition. Her time and energy were spent doing rounds in courts and police stations. On May 26, she died of complications related to her illness.

Twenty-five-year-old Gaurav has decided to continue the fight his mother Priya (name changed) started, including pursuing the case against former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa for allegedly sexually assaulting his 17-year-old sister.

On March 15, The Hindu reported that Yediyurappa had been booked with charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Soon after the story broke, journalists rushed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s house in Bengaluru’s Dollars Colony. As they stood outside giving breathless live updates, a carefully compiled document swiftly found its way to journalists. It was a list of more than 50 ‘complaints’ that Priya had apparently filed. A shadow of doubt was immediately cast. Was Priya someone who routinely gave police complaints? Was Yediyurappa the next target in her long list? This document, that TNM has confirmed was prepared by someone in the Police Department, was also later given to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah when he enquired about the seriousness of the case. 

The way the police leak was reported in the media (including on TNM) created the impression that Priya had filed 59 cases against numerous people including influential persons. TNM reviewed the 59 entries and the picture that emerged from the exercise that spanned a week was starkly different from the image that was painted of her. We found that she had filed a total of six cases, while the remaining 53 were petitions seeking action on her complaints.  

Priya’s encounters with the law began in 2015, after her daughter was sexually assaulted by a relative. Four of the FIRs were filed in connection with the sexual assault and two others were regarding cheating in business. She also filed a private complaint with a court against a senior IPS officer who allegedly manhandled her when she sought his intervention. 

A happy family unravels

Priya met Krishna (name changed) when they were both working together at IBM in Bengaluru. Priya was a Lingayat woman who hailed from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district, which is also Yediyurappa’s hometown and legislative constituency. Krishna was from Bihar. They fell in love and got married in 1997. When the IT boom in Bengaluru took off in the next few years, they began living the IT dream. They had a three-storey house to raise their children, two cars with drivers and three domestic helpers. Priya and Krishna tried their hand at starting their own IT company and when it didn’t take off, they went back to salaried jobs. Theirs was a happy family, until 2014. 

That year, Krishna’s nephew got a job in Bengaluru and came to live with them. He sexually assaulted Priya’s daughter who was then about seven years old. 

“My sister was too scared (to talk about the assault), my cousin had threatened her. He had told her he would kill us. A year later, my mother happened to show her a video which is used to educate children on safe and unsafe touch. This is when my sister finally told my mother what happened,” recalls Gaurav.  

The discovery that their daughter was abused for around two years shocked Priya and Krishna. Unlike most families who do not file complaints when family members are the sexual predators, they made a difficult decision. In November 2015, they filed a complaint with the Electronic City police.

In the years since, their lives fell apart. 

In 2016 Priya suspected that one of the house helpers had tried to poison the family at the behest of Krishna’s nephew and filed a complaint with the police. A year later, Gaurav was attacked by unknown men near Electronic City and Priya filed another complaint. During this time, the nephew’s family kept threatening her because they wanted the POCSO case withdrawn, and she approached the police about it.

In 2018, she filed a case against the nephew’s parents and even her own husband. She had accused the family of pressuring her to withdraw the complaint using her husband. In the same complaint, she had accused her husband of domestic violence.

Krishna and Priya’s financial status had taken a beating by then and Krishna had turned to his family in Bihar for help. “I did take their help financially, Priya was angry about it. But I had made it clear to my family that we would not take back the case. Despite everything, I never doubted Priya’s sincerity or intentions with regard to our daughter’s assault,” Krishna told TNM.

The trial meanwhile was swiftly progressing in court. However, in August 2018, the prosecutor of the case, Nitin Ramesh, was appointed as Additional Advocate General. Fearing the trial would be derailed, Priya approached every authority she could to get justice for her daughter. She wrote letters to the Chief Minister, Home Minister, and the Director General of Police (DGP). Krishna distinctly remembers their meeting with BS Yediyurappa in 2018, asking for help. 

One of the major altercations Priya had was in February 2019 with senior IPS officer Alok Kumar, who was then Bengaluru Additional Commissioner of Police (CCB).

According to Priya, she went to the Commissioner to complain about an NGO worker who was allegedly asking her to withdraw the POCSO case. She met Alok Kumar instead, as the Commissioner was on leave. Priya alleged that Alok Kumar told her that the NGO worker was influential, then manhandled and threatened to jail her if she approached the police commissioner again.

She tried to file a complaint with the police, but they refused. Meanwhile, a police official filed a complaint against her for creating a ruckus in Alok Kumar’s office, but it was quashed by the Karnataka High Court. According to a TOI report, the court said that the FIR against her was an afterthought and “a clear abuse of the law”. 

She finally filed a private complaint with a local court. Alok Kumar obtained a stay from the Karnataka High Court in 2023. 

Alok Kumar, who is now the Additional DGP Training, Traffic and Road Safety, told TNM that he tried to help her in his capacity as a police officer even though it was not his jurisdiction. “I don’t know who this NGO worker is.” He said that he had not manhandled Priya and that he had been cleared of those charges by a CID inquiry ordered by the DG-IGP and later by the State Human Rights Commission. 

Watch Gaurav speak to TNM’s Dhanya Rajendran

Driven to desperation

In 2018, she accused Congress leader VS Ugrappa of threatening her to withdraw the case against her nephew. She had approached him when he was heading the expert committee set up to look into violence against women and children.

Such altercations became common over the years. She relentlessly pursued the case against her daughter’s alleged attacker and slowly descended into desperation. Her efforts to get justice for her daughter coincided with a breakdown of trust in the system and in her family. The last 15 years of Priya’s life were also marked by illness. She survived kidney cancer in 2010 but around 2023 developed lung cancer and died of illness-related complications.

“Mom was one of the strongest persons I have seen. To be constantly defeated by the system and to still try thinking that ‘yes, the government will do something, the department will do something’ (took its toll on her). She kept believing in the system but every time it was the same result. Nobody helped her,” says Gaurav.

Gaurav* with his mother and sister
Gaurav* with his mother and sister

Being constantly let down by due process changed Priya dramatically. Both her son and husband told TNM that she stopped trusting them. Once a woman who supported her son’s aspirations, she now demanded that Gaurav stay at home. She and her husband fought constantly, and their marriage broke down to the point where Krishna transferred all their remaining assets to her and they got divorced. Her daughter’s grades slipped and she dropped out of school.  

A prosecutor who worked on the case said that though Priya was single-minded about the case, she hardly trusted anyone. “I am not surprised that the case saw many prosecutors. She would get angry and accuse prosecutors of colluding with the accused. She was once rebuked by a judge in open court,” he said. 

Krishna does not find that surprising. “I was not closely involved with the case after 2018 but she was not getting the help she wanted and didn’t trust anyone,” he said. 

Gaurav recounted that after his sister’s assault, their life changed completely. “We were a well-off family. I remember my father at one point used to work for an international car manufacturer and used to travel to America, Germany, and other places frequently. A drone he bought me was one of my favourite things. But as soon as the case began, my parents lost money too. And after the divorce, my mother wanted to somehow make sure she earned money again,” Gaurav recalls.

This desperation to regain their former life, Gaurav and his father Krishna say, is the reason Priya ventured into businesses with people she may not otherwise have trusted, and even readily believed in incredulous business “ideas”. Krishna and Gaurav said that she ended up selling their house to raise the money for these business ventures which included laser cutting, quarrying, and granite tiles. Once she realised she had been cheated, she filed at least two complaints against business partners. 

These developments created a wedge in the family which grew so much that Gaurav moved out of the house while he was studying engineering. At one point Priya filed a complaint against Gaurav for not repaying the money she had given him to start a business.

Despite the setbacks and the unravelling of her family, she never lost sight of her fight to get her daughter’s attacker punished. A staunch BJP supporter, she decided to once again approach the biggest BJP leader in the state and a fellow Lingayat, BS Yediyurappa, who was also someone she knew personally through a close relative. 

Turning to BSY for help 

Gaurav still remembers the call he received from his sister. “She told me that our mother took her to BS Yediyurappa’s house. She described what happened. I was furious. I asked my mother why she had to go to such people. She said he is the biggest leader from our community,” Gaurav says.

On February 2, 2024, Priya and her daughter went to Yediyurappa’s house in Dollars Colony seeking his help in getting the government to form an SIT to look at the 2015 POCSO case. According to the complaint, while Priya was explaining the details of the case, Yediyurappa allegedly asked the minor to go to a room where he allegedly molested her. 

Gaurav is angry at the lack of progress in the case. “It took us one entire month to get the FIR registered against him. Just because he is a former Chief Minister or a very powerful politician, why was justice delayed? Why was law and order delayed? Doesn’t the law also apply to him? Aren’t we all following the same Constitution?” 

A video of that day emerged on social media after the FIR was registered against Yediyurappa. In the video, Priya is heard confronting Yediyurappa. “Appaji what did you do? What did you do to my daughter inside the room?” Priya is heard asking Yediyurappa. 

Yediyurappa then responds, “She is like my granddaughter. I have seven grandchildren and she is like one of them. She is a smart child. Nanu nodi, check maadide (I saw and I checked.)”

Priya then says, “I have been fighting for the last nine years. I have 54,000 call records and all the other proof necessary. Form an SIT to investigate how everyone including police, lawyers, rowdies have harassed me and my daughter.” The 16-minute-long video ends with Yediyurappa making a call purportedly to Police Commissioner B Dayananda saying, “I am sending a person to your office, please help her out. It’s a genuine case.” 

A death and demand for arrest

Since 2015, Priya had been fighting to get her nephew punished for assaulting her daughter. After Yediyurappa allegedly sexually assaulted her, she pursued that too. She wrote to the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court on April 2, and also to the police, alleging that the investigation was shoddy. She had set up an appointment with advocate S Balan on May 27, but she died of illness-related complications a day before the meeting. 

Priya’s death has changed things for the family again. Krishna says his first priority is to ensure that his daughter resumes her studies. Gaurav has a job that he likes. But both he and Krishna want to pursue the fight Priya started. Neither of them have an iota of doubt about Priya’s sincerity towards her daughter. 

On behalf of Gaurav, Balan has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking Yediyurappa’s arrest. He also sought directions for the police to file a status report on the investigation within a month. The petition points out that Yediyurappa was not even issued a notice under Section 41 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, and highlights several irregularities and lapses in the investigation. 

Two days after the petition was filed with the Court, the CID issued a notice to Yediyurappa to appear before it.  

At the time of her death, both Gaurav and his father Krishna were distanced from Priya. Despite everything, Gaurav recalls that Priya was a great mother before she changed beyond recognition due to the legal battles. “She was open-minded. I could even discuss my girlfriends with her. She was a great mother. But eventually life became like torture. I will remember her as a warrior mother. She did everything she could for her children, her family. I will do whatever I can for my sister now,” Gaurav says. 

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