Who is ‘sex trafficker’ Santro Ravi, whose photos with ministers has landed BJP in a spot in Karnataka?

In a leaked audio clip, Santro Ravi is purportedly heard claiming to operate out of the government Kumarakrupa Guest House.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jan 07, 2023 | 12:05 AMUpdated Jan 07, 2023 | 12:07 AM

Who is ‘sex trafficker’ Santro Ravi, whose photos with ministers has landed BJP in a spot in Karnataka?

“Even the chief minister addresses me as ‘Sir’. You are just a deputy superintendent. ‘Sir’ is what should come out of your mouth.”

These are the purported words of a man accused of sex trafficking, sexual assault, extortion, and power brokering for government transfers.

This audio recording, said to be between Manjunath KS alias Santro Ravi and a senior police officer, has landed the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in Karnataka in hot water.

Over the last two days — from Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and even Union Minister Pralhad Joshi — key leaders of the BJP in Karnataka have been busy refuting any links with Santro Ravi.

A disgruntled police officer belonging to the Bengaluru rural region, who wanted to expose the existing corruption in the ruling BJP government, reportedly leaked the audio recording which has now gone viral.

The phone conversation centres around a transfer posting in which Santro Ravi is purportedly heard asking the police officer to meet him at the government Kumarakrupa Guest House.

Soon after the audio clipping were released, photos of Santro Ravi with ministers in the Karnataka Cabinet — including the chief minister’s son Bharat Bommai — began making the rounds.

Opposition parties Congress and JDS accused the government of using Santro Ravi’s services for corruption.

Wife’s complaint puts spotlight on Santro Ravi 

This audio-clip leak comes on the heels of a case registered against Santro Ravi by the Vijayanagar police on Monday, 2 January, based on a complaint by his wife.

His wife had filed a complaint of rape and assault, and under sections of SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act and Dowry Prohibition Act.

Santro Ravi has since then absconded and the Mysuru police have launched a manhunt for him.

Criminal nexus at play?

The embarrassment continued to bother the ruling BJP government after JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy challenged the chief minister to order a probe into the alleged nexus between his Cabinet ministers and Santro Ravi.

Kumaraswamy demanded a detailed probe into the matter and sought to know the connection between Santro Ravi and ministers in the BJP government, and who provided the accused access to the government Kumarakrupa Guest House.

To save face, Bommai, on Thursday, reacted to the allegations. “It is Kumaraswamy who has made these wild allegations. Let him provide information. I do not know who Santro Ravi is,” the chief minister said.

Tweets, photos and piles of cash!

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress party has gone all out against the ruling BJP government for its alleged involvement with Santro Ravi.

'Santro' Ravi with his crores of rupees, with son of CM, Bharath Bommai, Araga Jnanendra, BC Nagesh, Dr. K Sudhakar

Santro Ravi with cash, Bharath Bommai, Araga Jnanendra, BC Nagesh and Dr K Sudhakar

Santro Ravi alias Manjunath KS has been accused in several cases of immoral trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Mysuru and Bengaluru.

The Karnataka Congress’s Twitter handle @INCKarnataka was buzzing with tweets of a series of photographs of fresh information, and photographs, involving Santro Ravi and BJP leaders.

In one of the photographs, Santro Ravi is seen posing with Basavaraj Bommai’s son with the photo caption “Me with my sweet brother Bharath Bommai”.

In another photograph, Ravi is seen speaking with Home Minister Jnanendra and also posing with him with a bouquet.

In one of the tweets — where Santro Ravi can be seen with bundles of notes — INC Karnataka said, “Has the information about Santro Ravi posing with crores of rupees not yet reached the IT and ED offices? Does ED not want to find the source of this illegal money or @BJP4Karnataka? Or is it the orders of its masters not to touch anything that exposes corrupt BJP?”

Another tweet showed a photograph of Santro Ravi with BC Nagesh, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Karnataka. The tweet read, “All the ministers in BJP are closely related to Santro Ravi in a prostitution racket and transfer racket. Is the Minister of Education also a beneficiary of his (Santro Ravi) racket? Is the government controlled by people like Santro Ravi? How many more brokers are there for commission government?”

Another tweet showed a photograph of Santro Ravi with Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr K Sudhakar.
INC Karnataka tweeted, “How is it that row after row — BJP ministers are close to Santro Ravi who is into immoral trafficking? Is it related to the fact that many ministers have brought restraining orders from the court to not telecast CDs? Proves their closeness with Santro Ravi and his business @BJP4Karnataka.”

Who is Santro Ravi?

Manjunath KS alias Santro Ravi (53) is a native of Mandya, Karnataka. He belongs to the Scheduled Caste community and his father was a deputy superintendent rank officer working with the Excise Department.

His first face-off with the police was in 1987, when he eloped with a minor girl to Dharmasthala and got married. The then-police commissioner Kasthuri Rangan ensured that he was arrested after booking him for kidnapping and marrying a minor girl.

While he was in jail, he feigned sickness and was taken to KR Hospital in Mysuru from where he escaped. A fresh case was filed against him for escaping custody.

Sources said that he then started interacting with people from tribal communities, promising jobs to women.

Trafficking women and other crimes

According to Odanadi Seva Samsthe, an NGO in Mysuru that has been actively pursuing Santro Ravi’s nefarious activities of trafficking women and pushing them into the flesh trade, several cases were registered against him in the Mysuru region between 2010 and 2014.

His prostitution rackets were allegedly exposed by the NGO staff who were working on busting immoral trafficking rackets. The NGO staffers would tip-off the police who would conduct raids at hotels and rescue trafficked women.

“Ravi had then purchased a Santro car and was known to be fast driver. He would escape from the raids whenever police would conduct them. He used to take tribal women in his car, promising them work. That’s how he came to be known popularly as Santro Ravi when he had grown big in the trafficking world,” said ML Parashuram, founder of Odanadi Seva Samsthe.

“Since Ravi continued his nefarious activities, he was also booked under the Goonda Act and was jailed at the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru. He again came out on bail and continued with his immoral trafficking business,” Parashuram alleged.

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“Ravi then became a proclaimed offender after he started filing complaints and cases against the police with the help of women who filed cases of atrocities on the cops,” said Parashuram.

Ravi then joined hands with around eight advocates who took care of his cases at the courts. He then grew bigger in the trafficking world where he was in constant touch with senior police officials and politicians.

He then started to blend in as a power broker who would facilitate transfers of senior police officials, taking money from them after discussing them with his politicians contacts, Parashuram said.

He added that his NGO has been documenting and collecting every immoral trafficking case against Santro Ravi and were following up on them as and when they came for hearing.

Ravi has also filed cases against members of the Odanadi Seva Samsthe NGO.