Hyderabad: The release of some photographs and videos allegedly relating to the gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl by five accused in a car in Hyderabad by Telangana BJP MLA M. Raghunandan Rao has given a new twist to the sensational case but also triggered an uproar with calls for action against him for revealing the identity of the victim.
The opposition Congress party also questioned the action of the MLA and alleged that he may be acting at the behest of TRS-MIM to save the accused.
At a news conference on Saturday, the MLA released some photographs and videos purportedly showing the son of an MLA in an intimate act with the victim in a car.
The MLA defended his action saying he had made the evidence public as police were shielding the son of an MIM MLA by giving him a clean chit.
Hyderabad: BJP MLA accuses police of ‘protecting’ few in rape case
He also disputed police claim that the sexual assault happened in Innova and alleged that the video shows the sexual assault happened in red-colour Mercedes car. He argued that even if the MLA’s son was involved in the act with the consent of the victim, it would not hold under Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Raghunandan Rao, a member of State Legislative Assembly from Dubbak and a lawyer, claimed that he has more evidence and if police failed to take action, he would produce the same before court at an appropriate time.
He released the photographs and videos hours after police announced that it has identified five accused, including three juveniles involved in the gang-rape of the teenager on May 28.
The police have arrested three accused, including two juveniles and were on the lookout for the remaining two.
The incident happened after the accused offered lift to the girl after she was returning home from a day time party at a pub in posh jubilee Hills. Deputy Commissioner of Police Joel Davis stated that the victim’s statement and the technical evidence collected show that MLA’s son was not involved in the crime. He, however, added that they would probe the role of others if something comes out in the subsequent investigations.
Hyderabad rape: 4th accused arrested, one more still absconding
The incident has triggered a huge political row with the political parties trading allegations. Since the accused involved is the son of a leader of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the opposition parties alleged that the delay in registering the case was part of cover-up. They also alleged that police were trying to shield other suspects, including the son of a MLA of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a friendly party of TRS.
Both the BJP and Congress staged protests in the last two days over the cover-up attempt. The BJP claimed that the government swung into action only after it staged a protest at the police station on Friday.
However, the BJP MLA has come under attack from the TRS, Congress and other parties for releasing the photographs and video saying this revealed the identity of the victim in violation of the Supreme Court orders.
As the photographs and video were widely circulated on social media, netizens slammed the MLA. Some of them demanded that the police should book him.
Congress MP in-charge of party affairs in Telangana Manickam Tagore took to Twitter to hit out at Raghunandan Rao.
“It is common sense & also SC directive that a rape victim’s identity should be protected. A lawyer& BJP MLA Raghunandan today exposed video of the rape victim. Is it for politics or personal gains?,” asked Tagore.
“One of the accused in the rape case is allegedly an MIM MLA’s son. By exposing the video, Raghunandan compromised both the case& safety of the victim & her family. Is it because of unholy nexus between TRS, BJP & MIM? Is their bond is more important than justice to a minor girl?,” Tagore wrote.
He also claimed that Ragunandan Rao is the personal lawyer of MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi. The Congress MP posted an old photograph of Raghunandan Rao with the MIM chief.
“How did the BJP MLA get access to a video that would be either with the police or with one of the offenders?,” the Congress leader asked.
He demanded that a case should be filed on him for compromising the identity of the victim immediately. He wondered if the Hyderabad Police would take action or keep mum to prove TRS+ BJP + MIM nexus.
The BJP MLA also responded to one of the tweets by Tagore. “I appreciate ur fight for truth. But I am Confused about with whom ur fight is? Is it with the one who is providing the evidence and fighting for justice? Or with someone who is misusing law and order and side tracking the case?,” Raghunandan Rao asked.
“Mr Rao, We don’t care about cheap TRPs We care about victim& her family We respect the SC We want peace &pride for our mothers& sisters Unlike for you, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ is not just a slogan. Every sister & mother is Bharat Mata for us. Our fight is for truth,” replied Tagore and vowed to expose what he called MIM+BJP+TRS match fix.