Global Manhunt for Indian Lawmaker Accused of Videoing Hundreds of Rapes

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An Indian lawmaker whose party is allied with the country’s prime minister is believed to have fled to Germany amid allegations that he sexually assaulted or raped as many as 400 women, reports say.

Prajwal Revanna, the grandson of former Indian prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, allegedly fled after thousands of flash drives were left in public places including parks and bus stands last month in the southern state of Karnataka, where Revanna holds office. The drives contained videos allegedly showing the abuse which Revanna filmed himself, according to The Times.

The Janata Dal (Secular) or JDS party, which is allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), last week suspended Revanna amid the allegations. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the claims has reportedly sought the help of Interpol in locating the 33-year-old, who allegedly left the country using a diplomatic passport.

An official from Revanna’s office has denied the alleged assaults and has claimed the footage was doctored.

The scandal has erupted during India’s six-week-long general election, with opposition figures using the uproar to attack Modi and his party. “This is not a sex scandal but a mass rape,” Rahul Gandhi, a member of the opposition party the Indian National Congress, said at a rally last week. Gandhi also accused Modi of having “supported a mass rapist” and alleged that Modi and his party had allied with Revanna despite being aware of the allegations.

In a police complaint, one woman who worked for Revanna alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by both the lawmaker and his father, H.D. Revanna, a legislator in the Karnataka state assembly. The older politician, who has denied the claims, was arrested Saturday in connection with the alleged abduction of a maid reportedly being held captive at a farmhouse to stop her from testifying against his son.

One woman who claims to have been victimized by the younger Revanna claimed in a police report that she had been assaulted by him for over three years. She also alleged that he would record the attacks and threatened to leak them on social media if she spoke about the incidents.

“Keeping those videos, he used to video call me over the phone and would ask me to strip,” the woman alleged. “He also raped me several times.” She added that she had not previously reported Revanna out of fear, but chose to do so now after the SIT was formed.

In his own complaint filed before his apparent disappearance, Revanna reportedly said the videos being circulated had been altered and are being shared to “tarnish his image and poison the minds of voters.”

Read More: Global Manhunt for Indian Lawmaker Accused of Videoing Hundreds of Rapes

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