The legal counsel of the women who accused former Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi of sexual assault on Wednesday criticised Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, reported The News Minute. The counsel, Jagadesh KN Mahadev, said that Yediyurappa’s invitation to Jarkiholi for an election campaign shows how the state government wants to handle the case.

“Yediyurappa’s open invitation to a rape accused [Ramesh Jarkiholi] is nothing but an insult to women of this state, that too, when my client was about to record her statement in front of a magistrate,” he said. “His statement is perfect indication that the Karnataka government is making all-out efforts to protect Jarkiholi.”

Mahadev also accused Special Investigation Team officers, Kavitha and Dharmendra Kumar, of releasing a video clip to media, which shows the woman travelling in a car. “This is a gross violation of our client’s privacy, hence, we have reported this to the magistrate by naming these officers,” he said.

Questions have been raised after the woman and Mahadev were seen travelling in a car with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee legal cell General Secretary Surya Mukundraj. They also used Congress MLA Harris Nalpad’s car.

Mahadev, however, refuted the allegations. “What is wrong if my fellow advocate brother [Mukundraj] accompanies me or the victim,” he said. “There is no party politics involved here. He came to advocate nothing else.”

He added that there was nothing wrong in using Nalpad’s car. “To travel with the victim, I used Nalpad’s car as the car used to be arranged by my driver,” he said. “He calls his friends and arranges sometimes.”

Talking to reporters earlier, Mahadev also requested them not to represent the woman in a derogatory manner. “Most of the news channels are stating that ‘CD Lady’ and ‘CD Lady Lawyer’, it is not correct to use such words,” he said. “These are derogatory terms. She is a victim, and she should be seen in such a manner and nothing else.”

On Monday, the woman’s family had alleged that she was acting under pressure from Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar. Her family had also urged the magistrate’s court not to record the woman’s statement as she was under duress.

Shivakumar had denied the allegations. “Let the investigation happen, they [the family] were speaking under pressure,” he had said. “If they have proof, let them give it.”

Sexual assault case

In March, the woman had accused Jarkiholi, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, of sexual harassing her in return for a government job.

Purported videos of the women and the former minister, as well as some telephone conversations between them, were shared on social media and aired by Kannada news channels.

Bengaluru activist Dinesh Kallahalli, who had filed the complaint, alleged that the Jarkiholi threatened the woman after he was told about the clips. In his complaint, the activist said that the woman had approached Jarkiholi to seek permission to use drone cameras for a documentary.

Following this, both of them met several times as the minister reportedly sought to know more about the woman. He also allegedly promised her a job at Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation. Kallahalli had withdrawn the case March 7.

Jarkiholi had resigned as a minister in the Karnataka government following the allegations.

On March 26, the woman filed a complaint against Jarkiholi. The complaint, calling for action against the politician, was submitted to Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.