From an alleged sex-trafficker to an influential powerbroker claiming to facilitate even transfers of senior police officials in Karnataka, KS Manjunath alias ‘Santro’ Ravi has come a long way.
His photos with prominent ministers in the Basavaraj Bommai Cabinet, and Bommai’s son himself, have landed the BJP in an embarrassing situation.
While the photos and allegations may be recent, Santro Ravi is no stranger to alleged criminal activity, claim police sources.
Now officials who are in pursuit of Manjunath alias Santro Ravi, who has been absconding since a new case was filed against him recently, suspect that he is armed with sex tapes of influential persons that he could misuse as leverage.
For about two decades now, Manjunath has been given a free rein despite several cases of prostitution, sex-trafficking, rape, assault, and extortion being registered against him.
Related: Karnataka CM orders investigation against ‘Santro’ Ravi
Criminal history: Honey traps, prostitution, exploitation
Police sources who have tracked Santro Ravi’s activities allege that he has bent the system to take undue advantage and procure wealth and assets through illegal means — irrespective of which party was in power in Karnataka.
Since the New Year, Santro Ravi has been off the police radar and is said to be absconding.
Following an audio tape where Santro Ravi claimed to influence police postings, photos of the alleged trafficker with Bommai government ministers have gone viral.
Leaders of the BJP, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai himself, have vehemently denied any links with Santro Ravi.
Bommai has, in fact, ordered an inquiry against him in a bid to counter the Opposition’s onslaught of allegations of a nexus between the government and Santro Ravi.
Police sources suspect that Santro Ravi — cornered and now absconding — may be in possession of sex tapes involving influential people.
“There is reason to believe that Santro Ravi could leak a CD of an incumbent minister in a compromising position,” police sources told South First.
Ravi has been previously accused of running a high-profile prostitution racket and forcing women into the flesh trade.
Cases of sex trafficking have been pending against Ravi for years.
Even as far back as 2005, Ravi was a wanted man, with the then-Mysuru Commissioner of Police Praveen Sood demanding the arrest of Ravi for trafficking women — including minor girls — for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Sood is now the incumbent DG&IGP of Karnataka.
The letter by Sood also deemed Manjunath, alias Ravi, a blot on society and someone who endangers peace.
Related: Who is alleged sex-trafficker ‘Santro’ Ravi?
When a police officer colluded with ‘Santro Ravi’
Santro Ravi’s connections and influence, it seems, run deep. From being pursued by the police for alleged criminal activities to developing an alleged nexus with them to aid his activities, Santro Ravi has been accused of colluding with policemen as well.
A police inspector, identified as Praveen, attached to the Cottonpete police station, is in the docks after a departmental enquiry (DE) was initiated against him for allegedly working with Santro Ravi.
Prima facie evidence pointed to Praveen colluding with Santro Ravi to file a false case against two women who were victims of Ravi’s predatory activities.
Initial findings of the departmental enquiry found that Praveen booked the two women in a theft case, accusing them of stealing from Santro Ravi’s fictitious finance company.
“The two women, one of whom is a 19-year-old accountant, to spend around 20 days in judicial custody at the Parappana Agrahara Central prison for an offence they never committed,” said a senior police officer.
Soon after they came out on bail in the last week of December, one of the women, who claimed to be Ravi’s wife, approached the Mysuru-based NGO Odanadi Seva Samthe and narrated their ordeal.
Theft in a non-existent finance company
With the help of the NGO, the woman successfully filed a complaint with the Vijayanagara police in Mysuru, who registered an FIR booking Ravi for sexual assault and committing caste atrocities against the victims.
The woman alleged in her complaint that she approached Santro Ravi in 2019 after she saw a newspaper advertisement calling for managerial positions at a finance firm.
She applied for the job and attended the interview at a hotel with Santro Ravi, who then sent her a text message stating she was selected for the job.
When she reported to work, an associate of Ravi’s offered her juice allegedly laced with sedatives, which rendered her unconscious.
The woman claimed that when she came to, she realised that she had been sexually assaulted by Ravi.
The woman alleged that Ravi had also taken objectionable photographs and videos of her and used them to blackmail her.
In her complaint, she also alleged that she forced Ravi to marry her and their marriage was solemnised in a temple in a private event.
In her complaint to the police, she stated that Ravi used to ill-treat and abuse her, and even forced her to engage in sexual activities with others.
When she objected, he threatened to file a false case against her and send her to jail, she said.
She insisted that he follow through with his threat. He did, and it landed her and the 19-year-old, who apparently refused to relent to his demands, in jail.
The woman said in her complaint that Ravi colluded with Praveen, who allegedly filed a false case of theft against the two women.
“Soon after the women were out on bail, and they approached the NGO with a complaint, a departmental enquiry was initiated against inspector Praveen and it was learnt that not only had the theft not happened, but also that the finance company where the theft was alleged to have taken place was fictitious. This case will not be charge sheeted and we would file a B-report (closure report),” a senior police officer told South First.
Praveen has been transferred to the Intelligence Department, and the report of the departmental enquiry that was supervised by Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Laxman B Nimbargi, has been submitted to City Police Commissioner Pratap Reddy.
Reddy has, in turn, forwarded it to the state police chief, DG-IGP Praveen Sood, for punitive action against the inspector, as the Intelligence Wing falls under him.
Odanadi NGO writes to IT, ED, Amit Shah
Meanwhile, the founders of Odanadi NGO — KV Stanley and ML Parashuram — on Monday approached the Income Tax Department and filed a complaint against Santro Ravi, seeking a probe into his ill-gotten assets — both movable and immovable properties — and also to ascertain his sources of income.
“He flaunts, in photographs, huge stacks of cash, Rado watches, expensive cars and other wealth. The income tax officials have advised us to lodge complaints in two formats — one for the Benami assets and the other for illegal gains for which we will have to draft petitions and submit with both the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate,” Parashuram told South First.
The NGO, on its letterhead, has also written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to initiate a probe into the police department’s administration wing in the state to ascertain how much money has changed hands for all the police officials’ transfers till now.
The NGO founders have also written to the health minister about Santro Ravi’s notorious immoral trafficking cases that have led to victims contracting “sexually transmitted diseases” — as one of the victims has stated in her complaint to the police.