The rape and murder of Sowjanya, a first year pre-university student, in a roadside ravine near Ujire in 2011 got wide media coverage and led to protests across Karnataka.
However, more than a year later, the real culprits are still walking free while a ‘dummy accused’ has been put behind bars, rights activists say.
They see the arrest of Santhosh Rao as just an eyewash.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is angry at the marauders as well as those holding back the police from arresting the real culprits. A CBI inquiry appears to be the only way out now, said PUCL’s state officebearer PB D’Sa on Tuesday.
K Somanatha Nayak, president of Nagarika Seva Trust, said there was a group carrying out violence on women systematically. It was never caught. In many cases, women died under mysterious circumstances. They were probably raped and the truth was hushed up to save the real culprits, he alleged.
Justice MF Saldanha, president of Karnataka chapter of Transparency International, stressed on the need to remove officers who join hands with vested interests. The home ministry should identify and shunt them out.
Backward districts like Belthangady, which witness crimes against women, need better policing. The civil society should never allow the local bigwigs to have their own policing system in such districts, he said.
The best way to deal with cases like that of is to institute a CBI inquiry, he said. There were 434 cases of suicide in Belthangady police station limits during 2001-12. The majority of the victims were women,
Meanwhile, human rights activists in Puttur are bracing for another round of protests seeking justice for Sowjanya. They have pledged to make it an issue in the assembly elections. “This is where we will catch the leaders by the neck,” they said.