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Udupi College Students Suspended For Filming Woman In Restroom; Police Deny Communal Angle, BJP Claims 'Harassment'

The Udupi video recording incident took a communal turn on social media after some claims emerged that the videos of Hindu women were circulated among Muslim men. Multiple media reports quoting police sources said that the development made the suspended students fear that the incident would snowball into a major controversy — resembling the hijab row in January 2022, which also erupted in Udupi.

Karnataka Police (Representative image)
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After three women Muslim students were suspended in a college in Udupi, Karnataka for allegedly recording another Hindu student in the ladies’ washroom, the Udupi police on Tuesday, 25 July, categorically denied any communal angle in the case and urged the public not to believe in rumours. The police's statement came after social media was filled with rumours that sexually explicit videos of many Hindu women have been circulated among Muslim men by women from the community as part of a larger "Jihadi conspiracy."

The Malpe police in Udupi have now registered 2 suo moto cases in connection with Udupi college video recording incident -- one case against 3 students and college authorities for the act, another against a Twitter account for peddling fake news and misinformation about the incident. 

What happened in the Udupi college?

The incident came to light on Wednesday, July 19, when the concerned student who was allegedly recorded, told her friends, who then informed the college management. The three students were suspended on two counts: They brought a mobile phone — which is banned in the college — into the institution, and they recorded the video, news agency PTI quoted the college director as saying. The three students told the other student that they were “pranking” someone else and she was inadvertently videographed. They reportedly deleted the video in front of her, the director added.

However, the situation escalated when a right wing student’s organisation called All College Student Power- got involved at this stage and demanded action from the college management and police, according to a report by The Newsminute. The student group wrote to the Udupi Superintendent of Police Hakay Akshay Machhindra, demanding a police investigation against the three students and threatened to stage a protest if the college doesn’t file a complaint against the three accused women. 

What did the Udupi police clarify?

The incident further took a communal turn on social media after some claims emerged that the videos of Hindu women were circulated among Muslim men by Muslim women. Multiple media reports quoting police sources said that the development made the suspended students fear that the incident would snowball into a major controversy — resembling the hijab row in January 2022, which also erupted in Udupi.

Refuting the communal allegations, Udupi police on Tuesday, July 25 said that they have not found any evidence that the video of a Hindu woman using a restroom has been shared online, which led the student organisation All College Student Power, the main group which was agitating over the issue, to withdraw their protests.

Speaking to reporters, Udupi Superintendent of Police Hakay Akshay Machhindra said, “There’s a lot of confusion as many people are sharing misinformation on social media. I am here to clarify that the video was not shared with anyone. Many have said that there was a hidden camera inside the restroom and videos were being shot. No such thing has come to our attention.”

He further said that the concerned student has informed college authorities that she does not want to file a police complaint. “The victim has written to the college that she was acquainted with the three Muslim students and that the video was deleted immediately. She had told the college that she doesn’t want to file a police complaint,” Hakay Akshay Machhindra said.

However, even after the police press meet clarifying the rumours on July 25, Udupi BJP MLA Yashpal Suvarna reiterated that private videos of Hindu women were shot by Muslim women and were being shared with ‘anti-social forces’. He said on Twitter, "The government is washing its hands off the Muslim students who were involved in the attempt to ruin the lives of the Hindu students. This will not be allowed for any reason. There will be no rest until the culprits are brought to justice and the victims get justice."

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NCW to look into Udupi issue

The National Commission for Women on Wednesday, July 26, said that its member, BJP leader Khushbu Sundar is visiting Udupi to look into the issue. "Heading to Udupi to look into the issue where girls were filmed in a washroom by their fellow girl college mates. It is extremely saddening to see children indulging in such activities," she said in a tweet.

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