'I was blackmailed to steal'

It all started when 10 sarees went missing from the house of a retired Indian Air Force officer a month ago.

On June 15, Channappa lodged a complaint with Vidyaranyapura police alleging that his housemaid Lakshmidevi had stolen 10 sarees from his house.

Acting on the complaint, police, on the orders of the then Vidyaranyapura police inspector D V Prasad, arrested Lakshmidevi and detained her - without filing a first information report (FIR). The maid, who cracked under interrogation, allegedly promised to lead Prasad to a house where the stolen sarees were kept, but instead gave them the slip on the way. 

Prasad subsequently summoned Lakshmidevi’s mother Narayanamma, and other members of her family to the station, where he allegedly tortured them in an effort to find out Devi’s whereabouts.

Following allegations of human rights violation, the City Police Commissioner instituted an inquiry. Prasad was suspended on the basis of an inquiry report submitted by Nagaraj, ACP, JC Nagar, “ Ten sarees and subsequent harassment by police led Lakshmidevi to take the extreme step,” a teary eyed Pullanna said. “I would have paid for all those sarees. The police killed my wife.”

A K Suresh, ACP, told Deccan Herald that Devi had confessed to the theft on Saturday.
“She also claimed that she was blackmailed by her neighbour, Lakshmi, to steal the sarees,” police said.

Neighbour claims ignorance

The officer revealed that police summoned the neighbour, Lakshmi, for questioning. “Lakshmi denied that she has anything to do with the case and was released,” Suresh said.

Pullanna, however, suspected that  police had forced a confession from his wife to “save their backs, as two police officers have already been suspended in the case.”

Suresh, who recorded Lakshmidevi’s statement at Victoria Hospital said that she continued to blame Lakshmi for leading her to commit the theft.

Pullanna, who has since spoken with his wife at  Victoria Hospital, said he is unable to believe his wife’s confession that she stole the sarees.

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