Udupi students suspended for filming woman in restroom, cops deny communal angle

A right-wing student organisation has written to the Udupi Superintendent of Police demanding a police investigation against the three students.
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An incident that appears to be a case of bullying at a private paramedical college in Udupi has taken on a communal colour and sparked tension in the region after three Muslim woman students were suspended for allegedly videographing another student from the Hindu community in the restroom. While the college management and the police maintain that there was no criminal intent and that the video was deleted, right-wing groups have been mobilising public opinion by spreading the rumour that sexually explicit videos of many Hindu women have been circulated to hundreds of Muslim men by women from the community as part of a larger Jihadi conspiracy. The incident took place on Wednesday, July 19, and came to light when the Hindu student told her friends, who informed the college management. Though the college suspended the trio, 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. Once groups from outside the campus got involved, matters started going out of control and there is now a tense atmosphere in the region.

According to the chairman of the college, the three young women were suspended for two reasons. Firstly, they violated the college's ban on mobile phones on campus, and secondly, they allegedly recorded videos of their classmate in the restroom. The woman students said it was meant to be a prank and deleted the video in front of the victim. He added, “The victim didn’t want to file a police complaint. She has written to the college that the three students were acquaintances. But we couldn’t let go of such behaviour so we informed the police and handed over the mobile phone used to make the video.”

Meanwhile, the student organization has written to the Udupi Superintendent of Police Hakay Akshay Machhindra and demanded a police investigation against the three students who used the phone to record their classmate. They also threatened to stage a protest if the college doesn’t file a complaint against the three accused women. Representatives from this student organisation have also appeared on news channels claiming that many such videos of Hindu girls have been taken and circulated

The college chairman meanwhile said, “The victim and the three students are fearing for their safety considering the nature of events that took place in Udupi in the last year,” he said referring to the hijab ban.

The incident has gained significant attention on social media, with claims that the videos were circulated among Muslim men. The police have refuted these claims, stating that no such evidence has been found.

Additional Superintendent of Police for Udupi ST Siddalingappa told TNM that the incident was an isolated one within the college and had no communal aspect to it. "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 has no communal angle to it. The purported victim doesn't want to file a police complaint," asserted the Additional SP.

The Chairman also denied any communal angle associated with the alleged video. “It was an isolated incident and we have taken action immediately. The students were acquainted with each other,” he said.

Adding to the already charged atmosphere, this incident occurred a year after the hijab ban controversy in Karnataka. Udupi became the center of a heated dispute in colleges over the wearing of hijabs by Muslim students. The conflict gained international attention when photographs of Muslim students studying on the stairs outside their classrooms surfaced, leading to protests and violence.

While the recent incident is not related to the previous hijab ban dispute, authorities emphasise that it should not be communalised. The college management and the police call for restraint and unity in dealing with the matter.

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