Dakshina Kannada police have arrested 11 people for circulating the video showing a 19-year-old college student being sexually assaulted by five men. The district police, which had set up two teams to investigate the incident, had earlier confirmed that all five men accused of raping the woman were arrested.
The second team formed by the police investigated the spread of the contentious video, which began circulating on Tuesday evening, bringing the incident into focus.
Muralitharan (29), Chandrashekhar Mayya (47), Shreyansh S (20), Poovappa (26) ,Pawan Kumar D (19) ,Mohit P G (18), Dhyan A N (18) and Adwit Kumar Naik N (19) were arrested in connection with circulating the video on Thursday while three others - Shoukat Ali, Nazeer and Jabeer - were arrested on Friday. The men are from different areas in and around Puttur and have been arrested for circulating the video. They were charged under section 66 E (violation of privacy) and 67 A (publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act) of the IT Act and Section 4 and 6 of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.
Video leaked amid student elections in college
According to Dakshina Kannada SP BM Laxmi Prasad, the video was leaked by a student of the institute in which the woman and the men accused studied in. It was leaked in a bid to harm the chances of one of the accused in the college elections, said the SP.
"There was college elections recently and there was a scuffle between two groups of students. The video was circulated on Tuesday evening and we have arrested the people who circulated the video initially," Dakshina Kannada SP BM Laxmi Prasad told TNM.
According to the investigating police, Mohith, who studied in the same institute as the woman and the five men accused of rape, downloaded the video on to his phone after it was uploaded by Prakyath as a status on GB Whatsapp (a modified version of WhatsApp) briefly. Prakyath is among the five people accused in the case.
The video was sent to Poovappa, a physical education teacher at the college, who later sent it to Shreyansh, another student in the same institute. Shreyansh posted the video in various WhatsApp groups after which it was widely shared.
Following this, Prakyath, along with Sunil, Gurunandan, Kishan and Prajwal, all 19-year-old students of the same college in Puttur, were arrested by the police on Wednesday.
Viral video brings case to light
The incident occurred sometime in late March or early April and only came to light when the video of the incident was shared widely on Tuesday. Dakshina Kannada police approached the woman to file a complaint. Investigating police stated that the accused men threatened the woman with the video due to which she did not reveal the incident to her family members.
Alongside the investigation into the perpetrators of the incident, the police decided to take suo motu action in the case to stop the circulation of the video. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Dakshina Kannada SP BM Laxmi Prasad urged residents in the district to not post the video on social media or save it on phones or computers.