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No, video recording unsuspecting girls inside toilet is not a ‘prank’: How TNM editor and others engaged clever wordplay to whitewash Udupi bathroom video case

The added worry of the TNM editors is about how the incident may cause communal tension in the area, not about how the privacy of some innocent young hindu girls was grossly violated and endangered by their Muslim classmates.

The incident where Hindu girls in Udupi district’s Netra Jyoti college were secretly videographed by their Muslim classmates has again brought to light how a certain section of Indian media, and so-called ‘secular liberals’ use all the tactics in their arsenal to downplay, and even whitewash crimes when the perpetrators are from a ‘particular religion’.

From the day the incident gathered limelight on social media, Alt News’ Md Zubair has been busy dog-whistling against the voices who tried to raise the issue. Zubair used The News Minute’s report on the issue as his tool to label Right Wing voices like Rashmi Samant and Shefali Vaidya as liars.

TNM’s editor Dhanya Rajendran was called out by many on social media for the twisted coverage the portal did on the issue. TNM had tried to trivialize the incident where Hindu girls of an institution were secretly filmed while using the toilets, by their Muslim classmates.

The whole narrative of trivializing and dismissing the incident as a ‘prank’ sprouted from a TNM report where careful words were used by the editors to shift the blame from the perpetrators and downplay the incident as a playful joke between some squabbling girls.

In a tweet, Rajendran said that the college chairman and three accused women said it was a ‘prank’ and that the TNM simply reported their defense. She further added keeping a camera to record in a bathroom amount to bullying and harassment.

Tweet by TNM’s Editor in chief Dhanya Rjendran

Interestingly, in an incident where unsuspecting Hindu girls were secretly filmed in the college washroom by their own Muslim classmates, the entire focus of the TNM report was stressing how it was a trivial incident and how it was only gaining attention because of ‘right-wing groups’.

The very first lines in the TNM report declare the incident as a case of ‘bullying’ and how it is being given a communal color by outsiders. In the first paragraph itself, there have been assertive sentences thrown in with confidence, like “right-wing groups have been mobilizing public opinion”, and “spreading the rumor”. The only part that does not get assertive words, and gets diluted with dismissive vocabulary is the actual crime itself.

For TNM, the act of videographing the Hindu girls was an “alleged” incident’.

TNM report of the incident

The report even goes to great lengths to insinuate that the victims themselves had dismissed the incident and that the video was deleted before them. They achieve this insinuation by repeatedly stressing how the matter only gained public attention because “outsiders” got involved and tried to give it a communal colour. They even note down how a right-wing student organization demanded police action even after the accused students were suspended, trying to further paint the perpetrators as more victimized than the victims themselves.

‘Appears to be’, ‘allegedly’ etc for the actual crime while ‘said’, maintained’ etc for dismissal of the perpetrators’ act

In the TNM report, anything related to the actual crime, of secretly filming unsuspecting Hindu girls inside the female washroom in a college, is ‘alleged’, not even substantiated. However, anything that dilutes the crime, and dismisses the intentions of the perpetrators involved is stressed with strong words, like ‘maintained’, or ‘said’. The college administration “maintains” and “says” that the act was a “prank”, but the Hindu girl “alleged” that she was being filmed.

Further in the article, it is mentioned that there is tension in the area ‘because the right-wing groups are mobilizing public opinion’, not because the fact that Hindu girls were filmed without consent while using the washroom, by three Muslim students.

The gravity of the situation is expertly diluted by the TNM’s editorial wordplay. The fact that video recording someone during their private time, without their consent is a crime, has no importance here, not for TNM because what is most important for them here is the protection of the perpetrators involved.

The Muslim girls who video-recorded their Hindu classmates are painted as playful pranksters who ‘allegedly’ filmed someone. The added worry of the TNM editors is about how the incident may cause communal tension in the area, not about how the privacy of some innocent young Hindu girls was grossly violated and endangered by their Muslim classmates.

Dhanya’s priorities were noted by many on social media.

Not just TNM, a plethora of ‘secular liberals’ are out to whitewash the crime

Apparently, because the perpetrators are Muslims and the victims are Hindus, the ‘secular’ narrative is to focus on how the crime was trivial, even childish, a mere matter of kids being mean to each other and playing pranks.

TNM and Dhanya Rajendran were outraged when a girl from the Hijab protests was filmed by a hidden camera

Interestingly, while TNM and its editor seem to be very inclined to dismiss the secret filming of Hindu girls inside a college washroom as a ‘prank’, they were very outraged when a student participating in the hijab protests a year ago was allegedly filmed by a news channel without her consent.

In February 2022, Dhanya Rajendran shared another TNM report that described how a hidden camera used by a Kannada news channel has left a student distraught. The report described how the Suvarna news staff entered the girl’s house and filmed her grandmother and cousin while falsely claiming to be from an NGO. The report described in great detail how the incident left the hijab girl traumatized and shaken.

For some reason, Dhanya Rajendran and her news portal do not think the Hindu girls who got secretly video recorded inside their college toilet deserve the same respect for their privacy and dignity.

A detailed chronology of the Udupi case can be read here. A detailed article on the police FIR and the college’s response can be read here.

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