Supporters of former Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi have been on a rampage in Gokak damaging public property, ever since he quit the cabinet over an alleged sex scandal. Besides pelting stones at buses and attacking motorists on road, they have been forcefully shutting shops.
The protests continued for the fourth day on Saturday (March 6) with the supporters demanding chief minister B S Yediyurappa to reinstate him in the cabinet and hand over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Jarkiholi resigned after a complaint was filed by social activist Dinesh Kallahalli accusing him of seeking sexual favours by promising government job to a woman.
The protesters believe their leader did no wrong and want the police to arrest those who leaked the video. They claim the minister is become a victim of a political ploy in Belagavi.
After the scandal, six ministers moved a court seeking an injunction against media from publishing or airing anything “defamatory or unauthenticated” against them. The Additional City Civil court judge on Saturday granted the interim injunction restraining 67 media houses, both regional and national, from publishing unverified content.
The ministers — K Sudhakar, Byrathi Basavaraj, BC Patil, Shivram Hebbar, HT Somashekar and KC Narayana Gowda — moved the court calling it as a precautionary measure against a “big political conspiracy” targeting them. All of them were part of the 17 members who resigned from the House and led to the fall of the Congress-JDS coalition government.
Sudhakar said both mainstream and social media platforms are misused to broadcast misinformation and fake news.
The police, meanwhile, are looking for the person who is said to have handed over the CD with video footage of Jarkiholi’s alleged misdeeds to the activist who exposed the scam. They are also trying to ascertain the whereabouts of the woman.
Meanwhile, MP Renukacharya, BJP legislator and advisor to Yediyurappa, said the incident was neither sexual harassment nor rape and dismissed the allegations terming it as a conspiracy to defame the minister.
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai did not respond when asked why the vandalism in Gokak was allowed to continue for four days. Nataraj Gowda of the Congress asked if the government would have sat idle had the minister been from a different party. “Why are they (the police) not able to put an end to the protests that are disrupting normal life in Gokak? We are seeking a larger probe into this scandal,” he said.