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This voyeur preyed upon young couples

M.T. Shiva Kumar
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He posed as a forest guard attached to BNP

The city police arrested a cab driver, masquerading as a forest officer in Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), for alleged sexual coercion and extortion of young couples in the park area.

Acting swiftly on a bunch of complaints by six girls on Monday, the police with the assistance of Forest Department officials, tracked down and arrested Bharath alias Shivarama Reddy (28), who was lurking around in the park area.

The police recovered a Forest Department uniform a multi-utility vehicle, a lathi and a mobile phone from the imposter, whose day job is driving a cab.

Posing as a forest guard attached to the BNP, Reddy would accost young couples making out in secluded areas and threaten to book them for indecency. After listening to their entreaties, he would let them off after taking their pictures on his cellphone and noting down their phone numbers. After about a week or so, he would call the girls and allegedly blackmail them by threatening to leak the images to their families, a police official said. “He would also ask the girls to meet him alone and seek sexual favours or money.”

The police said Reddy had preyed upon several girls in the vicinity of Kaggalipura village near BNP.

How it came to light

Reddy's predatory acts came to light during the second week of August, when he demanded Rs. 8,000 from a student who lives near the Jigani industrial area.

She could not pay and had to succumb to his sexual demand.

The girl shared her ordeal with her classmate who turned out to be one of Reddy's victims. The girls, now suspicious about his antecedents, went to the police.

One Monday, six girls met the police complaining against the “forest officer” for sexual harassment, sexual coercion and extortion.

Complaints

While three girls refused to file formal complaints, the other three — students of Bangalore colleges — did.

“We want other victims to come forward to complain,” an officer at the Bannerghatta police station told The Hindu .

Preliminary investigation reveals that Reddy had been stalking couples for months.

Cases have been booked against him under various sections of the IPC. He was produced before a local court which sent him in judicial custody for 14 days.

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