Man who misbehaved with women staff in police custody

Official who misbehaved with female staff in police custody for two days

The statements of three victims were recorded by the police on Saturday

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

District Leprosy Control officer and Ayushman nodal officer in Dakshina Kannada district, Dr Rathnakar, who was detained by the police, following complaints of indecent behaviour with women employees, was arrested and produced before the court on Saturday evening.

"The court remanded Dr Rathnakar to two days of police custody," Mangaluru Commissioner of Police N Shashi Kumar told media persons on Saturday.

A member of the internal inquiry committee, who had inquired into the allegations against Dr Rathnakar, and submitted a report to Deputy Commissioner Dr Rajendra Kumar K V. The statements of three victims were recorded by the police on Saturday.

The victims, in their statements, had alleged that Dr Rathnakar had taken them on trips to Kundapura, Murdeshwar, Madikeri and Piriyapattana and had behaved indecently with them.

Anonymous letter to NCW

Months ago, an anonymous letter had drawn the attention of National Commission for Women's (NCW) to the indecent behaviour and harassment by Dr Rathnakar.

Police took up an investigation but could not make much headway as none of the victims came forward to file a complaint.

"Police did not have any evidence to file a case against the 'disgraced health officer," Mangaluru Commissioner of Police N Shashi Kumar told mediapersons on Saturday.

Thus, the police in their reply to the NCW, had said that preliminary investigation had confirmed harassment to women staff by Dr Rathnakar. If the officer is transferred from the district, a few victims would summon the courage to file a complaint, the police had stated.

The reply had also highlighted the ongoing internal inquiry being carried out by the department against the officer. The police will conduct an in-depth probe into the incident and will document statements of the victims soon.

Based on the video and the photos that were circulated, it looks like Dr Rathnakar had behaved indecently with over eight women employees. Notices will be served to victims to appear before the investigation officer to record their statements.

Future action will be taken based on the evidence and statements of victims, the commissioner said. Women police officers and senior social workers in the city had counselled victims on filing complaints against Dr Rathnakar. But victims, fearing loss of their jobs, had refused to come forward and file a complaint.

"It was only after video and photos started circulating on social media that the police registered a case and following complaints from members of Durga Vahini and took the Health official into custody," he said.

District Health Officer Dr Kishore Kumar has approached the police seeking protection for the women employees who were working under Dr Rathnakar, after the harassment of women staff at workplace came to light on Friday.

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