The saga of ‘Santro’ Ravi, arrested on January 13, is the shocking story of how a man who allegedly trafficked and forced women into the flesh trade, made deep inroads into the corridors of power in Karnataka. Stories abound about his connections with several top politicians and senior police officials.
K.S. Manjunath, 51, who later acquired the alias ‘Santro’ Ravi, as he used to allegedly abduct and traffic women in his ‘Santro’ car, hails from Mandya and is the son of a former DySP from the Excise Department. While police sources said he has had criminal records as far back as 1995, he attained notoriety as a human trafficker in the Mysuru region post 2000.
“He mostly targeted tribal women in the Mysuru-Chamarajanagar belt,” said a senior police officer, adding that he promised jobs and ultimately pushed women into prostitution. In fact, his wife, who has now lodged a complaint against him, has alleged she walked into an interview organised by him in 2019, when he drugged, raped and forced her into marriage with him.
His notoriety was such that he was arrested under the draconian Goonda Act, 1985, over 10 cases of human trafficking by Mysuru Police as far back as 2005, when he spent 11 months in prison. He has over 20 cases for human trafficking and cheating pending against him in Mysuru and Bengaluru.
“Of late, he had grown too big as he developed links with several politicians. There are unverified rumours that he was also into blackmail. He exploited these associations to meddle with transfers and made huge money,” a senior police officer said.
An audio clip where ‘Santro’ Ravi purportedly speaking to a DySP from Bengaluru Rural district, bragging about his highly placed connections, had recently gone viral. In the audio he is reprimanding the officer for not calling him “sir” and claims even the Chief Minister calls him “sir.” He claims to have aided the transfers of several police officials and asks the officer to meet him at Kumara Krupa State Guest House.
Following this, former Chief Minister and JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy held a press conference and released several photos of ‘Santro’ Ravi with ministers and hinted at his alleged role in the “Mumbai episode” where defector MLAs who brought down his government in “Operation Kamala” in 2019 were holed up.
Photos and videos of ‘Santro’ Ravi with several ministers have since gone viral. Mr. Kumaraswamy also released his statement to RR Nagar police in which he accepted that he was helping police personnel in their transfers and claimed he was a “BJP worker.”
CM orders probe
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai ordered a probe into the activities of ‘Santro’ Ravi and claimed that “even politicians from the opposition” had links with him over the last 20 years. He said the whole truth would come out during the probe.