Tirupati: The Tirupati police (Urban), on 16 October, slammed the former director of CBI, M. Nageswara Rao, for his allegations of religious bias in the investigation of a sexual assault case.

The former CBI officer had tweeted, “Sir @ysjagan, a poor girl was allegedly raped by a Pastor in Tirupati on 3rd Oct. Police are reportedly under pressure to hush it up. Case was registered after 9 days on 12th Oct. Accused Pastor not yet arrested. Please intervene for justice to victim girl (sic).”

Mr. Rao also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy, which he shared on Twitter, alleging that the rape accused is involved in “the business of conversions” and is a man of means and influence. “It is further learnt that due to political and other interference/pressures the police are going soft and the accused has not yet been arrested,” he wrote.

Reacting to Mr. Rao’s tweet, the superintendent of police (Tirupati Urban), Avula Ramesh Reddy, dismissed his allegations of religious bias in apprehending the accused. He said the accused, Devasahayam, had sexually assaulted an employee of his company, Rainbow Cleaning Technologies, located in Renigunta under Tirupati Urban police limits in Andhra Pradesh. The investigation has revealed that Devasahayam is also reportedly an evangelist.

Mr. Reddy said the victim had reported the incident to the police on 12 October during the Spandana programme, a weekly grievance redressal programme. “We registered a case immediately and the accused was arrested on Thursday,” he said.

According to the police, Devasahayam had threatened to harm the victim if she approached the police. Scared, the woman did not immediately file a complaint. The victim’s mother told reporters that the accused had been harassing her daughter and intimidating her.

The SP, Mr. Reddy, said, “We do not see the profession of the accused or their religious activities. We will arrest the person who has committed a crime irrespective of their profession and affiliation.” Referring to Mr. Rao’s accusation that the police had delayed in registering the complaint, the SP said that in spite of being a former IPS officer he had failed to verify the facts. “Don’t drag unnecessary things into the investigation,” he told Mr. Rao.

Responding to the former CBI officer’s demand for compensation for the victim, Mr. Reddy said the police have announced a compensation of Rs. 25,000 and asked Mr. Rao how much will he provide.

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