Protecting Prajwal Revanna’s victims, and activists’ reluctance to support Savukku

Protecting Prajwal Revanna’s victims, and activists’ reluctance to support Savukku

Welcome to Powertrip, a newsletter exclusively curated for TNM subscribers by Dhanya Rajendran, Shabbir Ahmed, and Pooja Prasanna. In this week’s newsletter, we tell you all about how the Karnataka government plans to protect complainants against Prajwal Revanna, why activists are wary of taking up Savakku’s cause, and a section of BJP leaders waiting for Vijayendra to fail. 

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The question of protection

The Karnataka government is facing a significant responsibility in ensuring the safety and protection of four women who have come forward to file complaints of sexual assault against Prajwal Revanna. Following their complaints, these women were housed in safe locations in Bengaluru to facilitate police access for statements and legal procedures. However, as the questioning phase concludes, these women, all residents of Hassan and most from Janata Dal (Secular) families, now face the daunting prospect of returning to their normal lives.

A mother-daughter duo — both of whom are complainants in the case — are in deep distress as they don’t have a home to return to in Hassan, which is a stronghold of the Janata Dal (Secular) party. Their property has allegedly been taken over by JD(S) workers. This circumstance has made their return to normalcy even more complex.

We have been told that the Chief Minister's office is exploring options to provide accommodation for these women. A few legal experts have pointed out that there was a provision under the Home Department that could potentially offer protection to victims involved in sensitive cases like this one. The CM’s office is looking at this possibility now. One reason for the CMO to be involved is also the criticism that has been directed at Siddaramaiah with many questioning his friendship with Revanna.

However, many lawyers and activists we spoke to do fear that the government will not pay enough attention to victim protection. Many have made SOS calls to ministers and government officials.

Activists in a dilemma over Savukku Shankar

The arrest of Savukku Shankar and his claim that he was assaulted inside Coimbatore Prison has ignited a discussion among journalists, human rights groups, and media associations about a possible intervention.

Many we spoke to say that their reticence to intervene is due to Savukku Shankar's own contentious stances on several human rights issues, such as his support for the police in the Thoothukudi firing, his backing of the police when a journalist was harassed in Kallakurichi case, and how he blamed the family of Kallakurichi student Srimathi for her death. One rights activist told us that Savukku will have to face the cases against him, however they are concerned about allegations of custodial torture. Many also don’t approve of several comments that Savukku has made in the last few months on politicians and others.

Additionally, the arrest of Red Pix editor Felix Gerald — and searches at his residence — has mounted pressure on rights groups and activists to speak up. One group said that Felix’s family was in touch with them, however though they recommended good lawyers, the family was surrounded by lawyers affiliated to the AIADMK.

Would condemning any kind of police assault on Savukku Shankar be misconstrued as condoning all his actions? This is the dilemma many are facing. One such rights group has decided to hold a meeting and then take a decision. Meanwhile, the police is also playing a proactive role in reaching out to political parties and influencers who may voice their opinion in favour of Savukku Shankar and are seeking their support for the police this time.

BJP leaders waiting for Vijayendra to fail

A section of BJP leaders in Karnataka are patiently waiting for state president and BS Yediyurappa’s son, BY Vijayendra to fail. These are leaders who have felt slighted by Vijayendra, and fear for their political future if he continues to grow stronger in the party. The camp includes leaders like Union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Shobha Karandlaje, and former CM Basavaraj Bommai.

So for them to have any relevance in the party going forward, Vijayendra’s clout has to be curbed and they are hoping that in his first big test — winning a big chunk of the seats in Lok Sabha — he comes up short.

Who’s making Congress’ election ads?

Have you been watching the Congress election ads with look-alikes of PM Modi, and ministers in his Cabinet Amit Shah and Smriti Irani? There are more expected to come over the next few days, we hear. Many are wondering how come the Congress seems to have learnt the game finally. We are told that an in-house team of leaders helmed by Jairam Ramesh and a few communications experts are deciding the themes. The key they believe is in making ads that come as quick responses to campaign developments like Modi’s Adani-Ambani speech. Other than the party’s in-house team, an external ad agency has also been working on several of these; but they are more on the manifesto promises of the party and not reactionary to BJP’s campaign.

And while the ads are reminiscent of the DMK’s ad campaign ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections directed by filmmaker CS Amudhan, the Congress ads are not his creations, TNM can confirm.

Zero Hour

A political story of public importance
Representative photo of civil society groups' protest in New Delhi. Photo: Sangeeta Braooah Pisharoty/The Wire
Representative photo of civil society groups' protest in New Delhi. Photo: Sangeeta Braooah Pisharoty/The Wire

India may have to brace up for tumultuous weeks following the counting day. In the event, it is the civil society that will have to roll up its sleeves and be prepared to rescue our democracy and prevent the current regime from stealing this election.

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