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HomeNews ReportsChronology of how Udupi secret video unfolded: From downplaying the crime, FIR after Zubair's...

Chronology of how Udupi secret video unfolded: From downplaying the crime, FIR after Zubair’s dog-whistling, to the shameless whitewashing by TNM

Initially, reports did not mention Hindus or Muslims as victims and accused. However, later clear distinction was made by the media. On 22nd July, Public TV reported that three Muslim girls had allegedly recorded others in washrooms. When some Hindu girls found out about it, they took the trio to the task, and an argument between them took place.

On 21st July, a Karnataka-based organisation, All College Student Power (ACSP), wrote the Superintendent of Police, district Udupi, about an incident at Netra Jyoti College where three female students of the Muslim community allegedly secretly made a video of Hindu female students and shared the mobile phone. As per the letter sent by ACSP, students at Netra Jyoti College learned about it on the 20th of July and protested against it.

The college took up the matter, and three students responsible for recording the videos were suspended effective immediately, pending internal investigation. Though the victim(s) did not wish to file an official complaint in the matter, the college went ahead and informed the police keeping in mind the sensitivity of the matter.

Media mentioned two communities

On 21st July, Mangalore Today pointed out that the incident involved two different communities, with one group of girl students “placing the camera to take pictures of students from another community”. The report further mentioned that the pictures were then shared on WhatsApp group.

Deccan Herald’s report from 21st July also mentioned that girl students from one community had placed a mobile camera in the toilet to take pictures of girl students from another community, and then the pictures were shared on WhatsApp group.

On the same day, Daiji World also reported that girl students of one community secretly filmed girls students of another community, when they were in the washroom. The report read, “Later, the video was made viral on WhatsApp group. The girl students of other communities objected as they came to know about the video made viral. Both parties had a severe altercation on the issue.”

OpIndia reported it for the first time on 22nd July. It was stated that the college administration suspended three female students of one community for recording private moments of female students of another community in the washroom. TV9 Kannada stated that the videos were shared with other pupils of their own community on WhatsApp.

The narrative shifted to clearly mentioning Muslims and Hindus in reports

Initially, reports did not mention Hindus or Muslims as victims and accused. However, later clear distinction was made by the media. On 22nd July, Public TV reported that three Muslim girls had allegedly recorded others in washrooms. When some Hindu girls found out about it, they took the trio to the task, and an argument between them took place. The college suspended three students who recorded other students.

On 23rd July, The Sports Grail shared the names of the three accused: Alimatul Shaifa, Shabanaz and Aliya. Their source of names seemed to be a tweet by Arun Pudur from 22nd July. The news portal alleged that Muslim female students recorded and shared the videos with Muslim men.

However, we noticed that the names were mentioned in a local newspaper, and a clipping of that newspaper was shared on social media. The oldest tweet where names first appeared was by Twitter user Madhukara R Maiya who shared the newspaper clipping.

On 24th July, India Today named the three accused as well. However, they relied on the tweets of human rights activist Rashmi Samant. It is evident that Samant also relied on the newspaper clipping and other reports, as two days prior to her viral tweet, the media had already mentioned Hindu and Muslim communities.

Interestingly, The News Minute report that Alt News’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair heavily relied on also mentioned that it was alleged that Muslim girls recorded videos of Hindu girls and shared them on WhatsApp. TNM called it a case of bullying and said it took communal colour after “three Muslim woman students were suspended for allegedly videographing another student from the Hindu community in the restroom.” The report further claimed there was no criminal intent, as said by the police and college administration. Blaming Hindu rights activists and the right-wing, TNM claimed rumours are being spread that sexually explicit videos of Hindu women have been circulated to hundreds of Muslim men.

Police claimed there was no communal angle

TNM further quoted police saying there was no communal angle in the case. The same was narrated by India Today during a panel discussion in which Rashmi Samant was also present. Both TNM and India Today said the police categorically denied any communal angle in the case.

TNM quoted ASP of Udupi Siddalingappa, saying, “We looked through the phone and didn’t find any such video. We thoroughly investigated the matter, and there is no evidence that the video was shared. It was a one-off incident in the college and had no communal angle to it. The purported victim doesn’t want to file a police complaint.”

The whitewashing of criminal intent

Mohammed Zubair, who is famous for whitewashing crimes against Hindus, randomly came forward and claimed it was fake news. He launched a vicious attack against female right-wingers and activists, including Shafali Vaidya and Rashmi Samant, for raising their voices against the heinous incident. When Zubair was called out, he played the victim card and said when he exposes fake news; people accuse him of dog whistling.

Source: Twitter

The reality is Zubair is the main reason a narrative was set against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. He cunningly used a clip of a debate where Tasleem Ahmed Rehmani repeatedly insulted Bhagwan Shiva, and Nupur Sharma retaliated with a warning that if he did not stop, she would speak against his religion. Mohammed Zubair trimmed Rehmani’s statements and shared only what Nupur Sharma said. In the aftermath, there were incidents of violence across the country. Islamic nations supported Zubair in his campaign against Sharma, which led to immense pressure on BJP, and the party eventually suspended her. Later, people were killed for supporting Nupur Sharma on social media, including Kanhaiya Lal from Udaipur and Umesh Kolhe from Amravati.

As Zubair and Rehmani walked free without facing any consequences for their wrongdoings, Rehmani often appeared in events and debates. On the other hand, Zubair wakes up on an odd day and paints a target on someone on social media. Author Shefali Vaidya, Union Minister Smriti Irani, human rights activist Rashmi Samant and ANI’s director Smita Prakash are some of his regular targets.

The detailed information by Udupi resident

Udupi resident Mithesh Kumar Moodukonaje. In a detailed threat, Mithesh said he talked to the students of the same college and the victim girls over the phone.

As per the information, the incident occurred on 18th July 2023 at around 3 PM. One of the victims noticed a hand-holding phone camera above her washroom door, recording her activities. When she came out of the washroom, she noticed her classmates standing on the porch, talking in their native language. As the victim understood their language, she understood they were talking about video recording. She reported the matter to the college office immediately.

The accused were called into the office and questioned about the incident. They accepted recording the video but claimed it was just a prank and “they need fun and entertainment within the campus”. The administration let them go immediately with their phones. Mithesh said it is unclear whether the accused deleted the videos after returning.

By the next morning, the information about the incident spread across campus. More victims came forward and said similar things had happened to them. On 19th July, the administration assured the victims that the accused would be debarred from the institution.

Meanwhile, the students came to know that it had been happening for over a year. Another victim came forward and said a year ago that, the accused convinced her that they deleted the video, and the administration was not informed. As the female students were scared, they started a protest on the 20th of July and refused to attend classes. The admin officer of the college tried to silence the students and claimed action had already been taken against the accused students. They were asked to write imposition five times and were suspended. However, they were allowed to write exams. The protesting students were not satisfied and demanded to debar the accused permanently.

Finally, the trustees were informed, and at around 11:30 AM, they arrived with an advocate. They asked the students to end the protest and discuss the matter, but the students refused. The management finally called the police. At 12:30 PM on 20th July, police arrived and convinced protesting students they would take appropriate action.

The students gave a request letter and were then taken to a classroom upstairs. When students asked for a copy of their request letter, police allegedly denied it. They were made to sit through lectures about online fraud by police, trustees, advocate, admin and principal.

Around 2:30 PM, media and Bajrang Dal activists reached the college. The students were locked in the classroom. The media was then taken away by the police, trustees and advocate, and they convinced them to leave. On the other hand, Bajrang Dal activists refused to leave.

At 4 PM, students were allegedly warned by trustees, admin and principal not to approach media or seek help from Bajrang Dal; otherwise, they would be debarred from the college. They were asked to go home.

Later, the college administration called the parents of the accused students. The mobile phones were confiscated during the meeting and handed over to the police. They were let go without any further action. Since then, the accused students did not come to college and remained unreachable.

On 21st July, the college administration called the victim students and their parents. They were allegedly threatened to make written assurance that they would not approach the police or register a complaint. Since then, students have been demanding police conduct a cyber forensic investigation on the phones and take girls into custody for investigation, but there has been no action. Both the college and police allegedly refused to register the complaint and investigate the matter.

On 24th July, victims, students and their parents met Yashpal Anand Suvarna, BJP MLA from Udupi and requested help in getting justice. Mithesh further added that the video was recorded in a systematic manner. One girl would stand outside and warn the other girls recording the video. Once the recording was done, it was handed over to another girl. They were always in touch with the boys outside campus.

The students alleged that the accused used to exchange mobile phones with the boys outside campus. The constant meeting between outside boys and accused girls was reported a year ago to a faculty member who informed about the same to the college management. However, only a verbal warning was given to the accused. Mithesh added that the students suspect that the college management has already threatened the entire faculty team as those supporting students have backed off.

Contradictions over the incident

In a recent statement, ACSP said the videos were not shared the way it has been projected on social media. The statement read, “Regarding Netra Jyoti college incident of 18-07-2023 full details have been given to the police – regarding BB the three students who had transferred the video to other mobiles.

At the outset, no videos have been transferred, don’t have any doubt about it; the Administration of the college has given full details to the police. As such, our college has banned the usage of mobiles in the classrooms since the beginning.

As soon as the incident occurred, the college gave an application to the police have been, and the college administration has given full cooperation for investigation from their side itself.

Thanks to the police department, which did a thorough investigation of the incident.

Whatever is shared on social media by some people and organisations is unrelated to this incident or Udupi. This is related to the Tamil Nadu incident. Let nobody have any doubt in their minds.

We extend hearty thanks to the people, elders who cooperated with us in this regard, especially our media friends, several organisation leaders and members.

Let their guidance and support be present for us in the coming days too.

Police’s visit to Rashmi Samant’s residence

Hours after Rashmi Samant raised the issue on social media, a police team from Udupi visited her house at around 8 PM. She was not at her house then, and her parents were repeatedly questioned about her whereabouts. Detailed information about what happened in Rashmi Samant’s case can be read here. It is notable that Rashmi is being accused of drawing parallels or comparing the incident with the Ajmer mass gang rape incident of 1992. However, Rashmi categorically said it “could have turned to another Ajmer”. The fear was genuine but Rashmi did not say it was like “Ajmer” even once.

In a recent tweet, Rashmi said that police were not acting against her but trying to intimidate her with no probable cause. She said their actions were very different from trying to combat misinformation.

The prank angle

Mohammed Zubair relied heavily on the TNM report. Shockingly, TNM tried to whitewash the incident as a “prank”. The report quoted the chairman of the college, who said the accused female students said that it was meant to be a prank, and they deleted the video in front of the victim.

The same “prank” argument was presented by India Today during the report, where Rashmi Samant was also present as a panellist. India Today’s anchor said the police said it was “meant to be a prank”.

In a tweet, Rashmi said, “How to whitewash a crime 101. Call the criminal recording of a female toilet a prank! I am from Udupi and absolutely ashamed to see this level of absolute BS.”

Nevertheless, the whitewashers are busy demonising those who are outraged over the incident, insisting that the incident had no communal undertones, even though the accused and the victims’ identities had been firmly established.

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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