Alleged sex-trafficker Manjunath KS aka ‘Santro’ Ravi, who was arrested from Gujarat on Friday, was brought to Mysuru on the morning of Saturday, 14 January. The alleged power broker’s photos with prominent BJP leaders had left the Basavaraj Bommai government open to criticism.
Santro Ravi, along with two others arrested with him, were taken to Vijayanagara police station in Mysuru’s NR Nagar to complete legal formalities, including a medical examination.
“As it is a holiday today (Saturday), we have to produce the three accused before a magistrate in the evening and seek custody for 14 days for interrogation,” Mysuru City Police Commissioner Ramesh Banoth told South First.
According to the Vijayanagara police, the focus of the investigation will be on the complaint filed by Santro Ravi’s estranged wife who has levelled charges of sexual assault, physical violence and forcing her into prostitution.
The victim, who is a Dalit woman, has also filed a case of atrocities against Ravi — among other charges such as dowry harassment and filing a false case against her and her niece — with the police.
The case against Ravi was filed on 2 January after which he was absconding. Ravi is accused of colluding with a police officer from Cottonpet police station in Bengaluru to frame the victim in a fake case — accusing her of stealing from a company that doesn’t exist.
Probe begins against Ravi
The Vijayanagara police have already recorded the statements of Santro Ravi’s estranged wife and her niece. During the 14-day police custody, the cops will take him for the spot mahajar (inspection), and as both the Vijayanagar case and the Cottonpete case are connected, they would be probed together, a senior police officer told South First.
Ravi also faces charges of cheating in a different case filed with the Rajarajeshwari Nagar police station in West Bengaluru. Ravi is accused of collecting lakhs of rupees from a person promising him a government job.
As Ravi failed to deliver on his promise, the victim approached the police and filed a complaint. However, Ravi allegedly claimed to be an RSS functionary and a BJP party worker to get out of trouble in the case.
Why did Santro Ravi go to Gujarat?
Manjunath alias Santro Ravi was arrested from Ahmedabad on the day Karnataka’s Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, too, was in the Gujarat capital for an official two-day event.
Opposition parties in Karnataka such as the Congress and JDS have deemed that it wasn’t a coincidence.
“If he went all the way to Gujarat, maybe the plan was to send him abroad. Who knows? Let there be investigation. How did he not get caught at Karnataka’s borders? Maybe the home minister went with him to send him abroad,” JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy told reporters on Friday.
Araga Jnanendra lashed out at the former chief minister for “irresponsible statements”.
The Opposition Congress too raised questions over Santro Ravi being traced to the same city where Karnataka’s home minister was present.
“Home Minister, who is close to Santro Ravi, went to Gujarat. Santro Ravi too had gone to Gujarat. Arrest too takes place in Gujarat. Did Ravi go there with the home minister? Was a compromise reached between the two there?” asked Congress in a series of tweets.
ಸ್ಯಾಂಟ್ರೋ ರವಿಯ ಆಪ್ತರಾದ ಗೃಹ ಸಚಿವ @JnanendraAraga ಅವರು ನಿನ್ನೆ ಗುಜರಾತಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ,
ಸ್ಯಾಂಟ್ರೋ ರವಿಯೂ ಗುಜರಾತಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿರುತ್ತಾನೆ.
ರವಿ ಗೃಹಸಚಿವರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದನೇ?
ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಅವರಿಬ್ಬರ ನಡುವೆ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ ನಡೆದಿರಬಹುದೇ?
ತಮ್ಮ ವಿರುದ್ದದ ಸಾಕ್ಷ್ಯ ನಾಶಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಗುಜರಾತಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದರೆ?
— Karnataka Congress (@INCKarnataka) January 13, 2023
Even as the Opposition parties cornered the BJP over Santro Ravi’s alleged proximity to its leaders, the BJP in Karnataka attempted to turn the tables.
“Santro Ravi, who was jailed over accusations of rape, sex-trafficking, was allowed to walk out of jail during the Congress’ regime. Siddaramaiah should tell the people of the state on whose recommendation did he order Ravi’s release in 2016,” BJP Karnataka’s official handle tweeted.
ಅತ್ಯಾಚಾರ, ವೇಶ್ಯಾವಾಟಿಕೆ, ಗೂಂಡಾ ಪ್ರಕರಣದ ಆರೋಪದ ಮೇಲೆ ಜೈಲು ಸೇರಿದ್ದ ಸ್ಯಾಂಟ್ರೊ ರವಿ ಹೊರಬಂದ್ದದ್ದು @INCKarnatakaದ ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲೇ. 2016ರಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರ ಶಿಫಾರಸ್ಸಿನ ಮೇರೆಗೆ ಆತನ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆಗೆ ಆದೇಶ ನೀಡಿದಿರಿ @siddaramaiah ಅವರೇ, ರಾಜ್ಯದ ಜನತೆಗೆ ಉತ್ತರ ಕೊಡಿ .#CriminalCongress https://t.co/HbkZLSPZaB
— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) January 14, 2023
When asked about Ravi’s attempted escape to Gujarat, Mysuru City Police Commissioner Ramesh Banoth said the absconding accused was fleeing to his business associate. One of the three arrested by from Ahmedabad, Ramji, is a native of Gujarat but had settled in Kochi in Kerala and is a long-time business associate of Ravi.
“Since Ramji knew the roads in Ahmedabad, Ravi changed his car in Kochi with the help of Ramji and managed to head to Mumbai, then to Pune and to Ahmedabad, on Friday, from where the three were arrested by Crime Branch sleuths of Gujarat police,” Banoth told South First.
He added that both Ramji (36) and Ravi’s driver Sruthesh (33) have been booked for harbouring the accused.
Police sources maintained that 51-year-old Ravi suffers from lifestyle ailments such as diabetes, among other issues, for which he has to be on medications every day.