Media gag, vandalism follow minister’s sex scandal in Karnataka

Court grants interim injunction in favour of ministers who went to court seeking to gag media

BJP MLA Jarkiholi stepped down on March 3 as the state’s water resources minister amid ‘sex-for-job’ allegations against him. Photo: Twitter

Days after a sex scandal tape allegedly featuring Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi (now resigned) came to the fore, six of his cabinet colleagues on Saturday obtained a media gag, apprehending that they may also be defamed.

Jarkiholi as well as these six ministers – Shivaram Hebbar, BC Patil, ST Somashekar, K Sudhakar, KC Narayana Gowda and Byrathi Basavaraj – were among the JD(S)-Congress rebels who had joined BJP in 2019 to pave way for BS Yediyurappa to form government.

They obtained the temporary injunction against broadcasting any material likely to defame them, after having moved court naming 67 media outlets.

Jarkiholi had resigned on moral grounds after the video CD allegedly featuring him and an unidentified young woman were played on news channels. Social activist Dinesh Kallahalli had filed a complaint accusing him of seeking sexual favours promising government job to a woman.

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Meanwhile, insanity prevailed in Karnataka’s Gokak as the supporters of Jarkiholi went on a rampage damaging public property. They pelted stones and attacked motorists on the road, besides trying to forcefully shut shops and impose an unannounced shutdown.

One of the protesters even tried to self-immolate on Wednesday, but was stopped and detained by the police.

The protests continued for the fourth day with the supporters demanding the chief minister to reinstate Jarkiholi back into the state cabinet and hand over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The protesters believe he was a victim of politics in Belagavi and demanded that whoever leaked the video must be arrested.

Related news | Sex scandal dents Jarkiholis’ clout in Belagavi, may benefit Congress

The six ministers, meanwhile, moved court seeking an injunction against the 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 media, from publishing unverified content.

Calling it a precautionary measure against a ‘big political conspiracy’ targeting them, the ministers moved the court after the Jarkiholi episode made it to the public domain. Minister Sudhakar said both mainstream media and social media platforms are being misused to broadcast misinformation and fake news.

Even with the police investigation, it appears that they are shooting the messenger by targeting the victim and the social activist who gave the police complaint. The police are running behind video footage of the person who handed over the CD to the activist and whereabouts of the woman, amid claims that there’s threat to their life.

Meanwhile, MP Renukacharya, BJP legislator and advisor to CM BS Yediyurappa called the act neither a sexual harassment nor a rape case and dismissed the allegations saying it’s nothing but a conspiracy to defame the minister.

While the State Home Minister did not respond to why vandalism was allowed to continue for four days, Congress’s Nataraj Gowda asked if the government would have sat idle had the minister been from a different party. “Why are they (police) not able to put an end to the protests that’s disrupting normal life in Gokak? We are seeking a larger probe into this scandal,” he said.

Related news | Jarkiholi’s supporters on a rampage in Gokak, vandalise public property

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