Karnataka minister faces allegations of sexual exploitation
An activist has filed a police complaint in Bengaluru accusing Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi of sexually exploiting a woman. Dinesh Kalahalli, the activist, has released a video and screengrabs that purportedly show the minister with the woman to back up his allegation. Local news channels have also aired a phone conversation purportedly between Jarkiholi and the woman.
“Since there are threats and an environment of fear, the victim is not filing the complaint. Her family approached me,” Kalahalli said.
Deputy police commissioner (Bengaluru Central) said they would like to first speak to the woman and her relatives, but the activist has not given them any information regarding them. “We are trying to ascertain who they are and are trying to contact them.”
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In his complaint, Kalahalli has alleged Jarkiholi exploited the woman after she approached him for some help with a short film.
Ramesh Jarkiholi could not be reached for comment and texts to the minister went unanswered.
His brother, Balachandra Jarkiholi, who is also a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, said the police should investigate the political forces behind the video. “If it is true, then will ask Ramesh to seek the state’s forgiveness and retire,” he added.
Balachandra Jarkiholi said the woman has not complained. “Some random person has filed it and it is wrong. I have requested the CM [chief minister BS Yediyurappa] to give the case to the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] or COD [Corps of Detectives],” he said after meeting Yediyurappa.
Ramesh Jarkiholi was among the lawmakers who defected from the Congress in 2019 and helped the BJP return to power in Karnataka.
BJP leader and Union minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday said that he was not aware of the details of the case against Ramesh Jarkiholi but has seen media reports about it. “I will inquire about this incident and then react. An investigation is a must,” Joshi said. He said that if the incident is genuine, it is a matter of shame. “We should be clean and there is no compromise on this.”
Ramesh Jarkiholi enjoys significant influence in Belagavi.
Top leaders of the opposition Congress met at former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s residence to discuss the issue as the party workers took to the streets to protest against Ramesh Jarkiholi.