Udupi, that was last in the news for the hijab controversy, has come under the scanner again for a controversy in a local nursing college.
Three girls, reportedly named Alimatul Shaifa, Shabanaz and Aliya have been suspended by Netra Jyoti College, a private eye hospital and nursing home in Karnataka's Udupi district for allegedly recording other girls in the bathroom and circulating the videos among their community members.
Media reports suggest that a mobile camera was placed in the bathroom of the college where students were secretly recorded. These recordings were then circulated among the community of the accused.
According to Deccan Herald, when the cameras were discovered by a student, "students from one community picked up a fight with the other community".
So far, the managing committee of the college has intervened and is trying to resolve the issue.
Student union groups have now requested Udupi's Superintendent of Police Hakay Akshay Machhindra to conduct a thorough investigation into the same.
Swarajya managed to access the copy of the complaint submitted to Udupi's Superintendent of Police by a local student body - All College Student Power (R) (AICP).
Victims' Voices Stifled?
When Swarajya reached out to some of the victims, they remained hesitant to speak to the media. It is also unclear as to why the students themselves have not stepped forward to speak to the police about this matter.
On a strict condition of anonymity, one of the victims informed Swarajya that they were initially discouraged from filing a police complaint. Who was trying to keep the issue under wraps remains unclear, as our source remained hesitant to disclose it.
"Onus is on the police to investigate now", the person stated.
However, several Hindu activists and student bodies are now raising their concerns on this matter and have called for an immediate, free and fair investigation by the police.
The complaint copy, as one can see, has been acknowledged by the SP's office.
When Swarajya spoke to Udupi's newly elected MLA Yashpal Suvarna, he stated that he just returned to Udupi last night, and has spoken to the SP about the matter.
"I will meet the victims, their families and the police tomorrow. We should have more information about the matter in a day or two. What is done is unforgivable, and there is no question of letting this matter go. We will pursue this matter until the girls get justice and feel secure", he told Swarajya.
Speaking to Swarajya, Rachan Saliyan from AICP said that the students, upon catching one of the perpetrators red-handed, organised a protest on 20 July, Thursday.
The girls and their families, according to Saliyan, are scared that their videos will get leaked and their identities revealed. He fears the reason behind the hesitance to file a complaint first-hand might be this.
The college is reportedly trying to avoid the attention of the media since it may defame their institution. As a result, no complaint from the management's side has been filed so far. AICP has given them a deadline till end of day, today (24 July, Monday) to file the complaint for further investigation by the police.
According to Saliyan, Malpe police called the organisation stating that the investigation is on, and that the phones of the accused have been seized.
Eerily Similar To Ajmer?
Rashmi Samant, a local activist, who brought the issue into the limelight on social media told Swarajya that the girls who were featured in the videos feel depressed to an extent where they are contemplating self-harm or suicide. She says that the whole issue is very "deeply unsettling".
She further likened the incident to the infamous Ajmer cases from the 1990s where multiple victims were recorded, raped and threatened by the perpetrators.
Speaking to Swarajya, Rashmi said that the government agencies involved in the investigation of the matter need to ensure that all digital records of the photos and videos are destroyed and no girl is being blackmailed.
Swarajya tried reaching out to the SP's office in Udupi, but received no response so far.
Rachan Saliyan from AICP, speaking to Swarajya, said that the accused belong to the minority community. However, the police officials are yet to confirm this.
Rachan stated that the accused tried to brush off the matter by telling the management that they were "just doing it as a prank".
Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.
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