News Karnataka
Tuesday, December 05 2023

Petition in Karnataka HC seeks reinvestigation into Soujanya case

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Bengaluru: A petition seeking reinvestigation into the Soujanya rape and murder case has been filed in the Karnataka High Court.

The petition filed on Monday has sought direction from the court to the state government to order reinvestigation of the case. The petition was submitted by the regional director of Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project, Sheenappa and another person, named Nandeeshkumar Jain.

The high court is yet to take up the petition.

The petitioners have also sought legal action against Mahesh Shetty Thimarodi for allegedly issuing abusive statements against famous Dharmastahala Manjunatha temple and judiciary. Mahesh Shetty Thimarodi has been organising agitations and protests demanding justice in the Sowjanya case. He is also making allegations against powerful temple management in the case.

The petition has made the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary of Home Department, Mahesh Shetty Thimarodi and six others as parties in the case.

17-year-old Soujanya was kidnapped on October 9, 2012 on way to her home in Ujire near Dharmasthala. She was studying in Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College. The next day her body was found near Nethravathi River, close to her house in the forests. The body was found half naked. One of her hands was tied with her dupatta to a tree. The police found that her genitals were soiled.

The news spread like wildfire and thousands of people gathered to demand justice. The fingers were pointed towards the family members of the powerful religious leader of the region. Amid the furore, the police arrested one Santhosh Rao on October 11 and claimed that he had raped and killed Soujanya.

It is alleged that the police after coming under political pressure had not bothered to videograph the spot or the body. No experts were brought to comb the area and no samples were collected from the dead body.

The protesters and family members of Soujanya raised suspicions against Malik Jain, an accountant with the Dharmasthala Trust, Dheeraj, son of a senior manager in the Annapoorna Trust and Nischal Jain, the nephew of Rajyasabha member D. Veerendra Heggade. However, Veerendra Heggde claimed that Nischal Jain was in New York when the incident took place. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took the three men into custody and interrogated and released them later.

Though the family of Soujanya approached courts challenging the release of the three men along with the accused, the higher courts did not allow the petition. The case was later handed over to the CBI for further investigation.

On June 16, the CBI Special Court acquitted the arrested accused Santhosh Rao of all the charges and the court also ordered a probe against those who investigated the case for turning a blind eye towards collecting crucial evidence in the due course of time. The judgment raised concerns among the public.

The suspicion was raised as an eyewitness Ravi Poojari, a security guard, who saw Soujanya alighting from the bus and walking towards home, had died suspiciously. Though it was concluded as a case of suicide, it is alleged that he was killed. The CBI charge sheet mentioned Santhosh Rao as the lone accused.

The issue has now come to the forefront again in Karnataka. Rajya Sabha BJP MP Veerendra Heggade reacting to allegations of hushing up the case had stated that attempts are made to bring disrepute and defame the Hindu pilgrimage center Dharmasthala, which is taking giant strides in terms of development by the invisible hands. The issue is taking a political turn with BJP organising a massive protest demanding the arrest of culprits in the case.

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