On Saturday, thousands of students protested at Chandigarh University, a privately run institute in Punjab, after they found out that videos of women from the hostel were being shared online without their knowledge. They said that a student had been shooting videos of her friends in the hostel secretly and sending them to her boyfriend.
The campus shut down.
The university and the police, however, have denied this. And yet, the police have arrested the 22-year-old female student accused of secretly taping her hostel mates and two men.
BOOM spoke to Senior Superintendent of Police, Mohali, Navreet Singh and students of Chandigarh University to piece together what happened at the Chandigarh University campus.
What Was The Video Exactly?
A student from the LC hostel (where this incident has taken place ) told BOOM on anonymity that on Saturday night, one of the girls from the hostel caught the accused girl filming another girl who was taking shower.
The student said that the accused girl used to lock the main door of the washroom area to avoid getting caught while filming others. She said this was not the first time the accused was doing it.
"I was in my room and rushed to the corridor after I heard some loud voices. The accused girl was corned by other hostel girls and questioned about the incident," she recalled.
For some time the accused girl remained silent but when she was scolded by other hostel mates, she started giving multiple statements. "Earlier, she denied that she had shot their videos but later she confessed. And then again she came up with a different story. She said, it was my own video. She was not giving us clear information. She was hiding something and so we contacted the warden," she said.
The news had triggered panic in the hostel. "Many girls started crying and were worrying for their privacy," she told BOOM.
When the hostel warden intervened and questioned the girl about the incident, someone shot a video of that. And that video went viral. In the video, the warden can be heard questioning the girl about her actions.
"Most of the girls in the hostel were shocked and numb. We were unable to comprehend the situation because she (the accused) was not clear with her answers," she said.
Soon, some students went outside and started protesting about the incident. They were claiming that the girl was shooting 'objectionable videos' of her mates in the hostel and they are now leaking online.
Why Has The Girl Been Arrested?
Although the police say there were no other girl in the video found on the accused's phone, she has been arrested and booked under Section 354-C (voyeurism) of the Indian Penal Code. A further probe is on.
The Senior Superintendent of Police told BOOM that they have not found any objectionable content of other women on the accused's phone. "She (the accused woman) had shared one video with her boyfriend and no other videos that students are claiming were found from her phone. We have sent her phone for forensic test and fare probe will be conducted," Singh said.
The accused women and her male friend were arrested from Shimla. Another 31-year-old man have also been taken into custody. He said that the 31-year-old man has voluntary produced himself before the police, he was blackmailing the accused with her old videos that she had shared with him.
"The girl initially said she didn't know the person but after one of our officers questioned her again, she confessed that she had once sent her video to him also and after that, he was blackmailing her. The investigation is under process and that's why we have asked for her seven days judiciary remand," Singh said.
An International Angle?
The police had sought a 10-day remand of the three accused – the 22-year-old woman student and two men. They said they suspect the involvement of a fourth person, who may have been blackmailing the woman student. The court granted the police seven-day custody of the trio.
"We want to investigate how many more are part of their gang. So far, we have leads about the involvement of a fourth person, who, it seems, was blackmailing the woman student, who had sent an objectionable video to her boyfriend in Shimla," stated the police in the court.
Police also found out that the two men had received calls from Gujarat and Mumbai too, and they are trying to ascertain if there is an international angle to the case.
The police added that they are investigating if the videos had been sent abroad, and if the act was done for financial gains. They are also investigating if the man who was arrested from Shimla had stored any videos on other devices, which the police have yet to recover.
The accused's lawyer has also accepted that a video of another girl was shot in the hostel washroom, but it was not of "objectionable nature". Police have sent phones of all three arrested in the case to the forensics team to ascertain if any videos and chats were deleted from their phones.
The Rumours On Social Media
Soon after the news went viral and some videos were leaked on social media, there were also rumours that said several girls from the University attempted suicide.
Senior superintendent of police, Mohali, Navreet Singh told BOOM that no attempt of suicide or death due to suicide was reported from the university. "No student has attempted suicide nor has any student died. These are just rumours going around," he said.
He said he rushed with his team to the university and dealt with the situation when he found out about it. "A large group of students were inside the hostel, and many were outside the campus. The news created panic among the students," he said.
"A woman student fainted in front of me and when we called an ambulance, someone shot the video and circulated it online with a claim that the student took her own life after finding her videos online," he said.
Videos Of 60 Girl Students- How True Is That?
There are multiple versions from the students of Chandigarh University about the incident.
A girl from the hostel told BOOM that a couple of girls had received their "bathing videos" from their male friends from boys' hostel. "They said the videos had been uploaded on porn sites," the student who wanted to remain anonymous said.
"This was the rumour in the hostel and soon many girls started panicking and some even fainted. Some were saying that there are videos of 60 girls doing rounds on Internet," she said.
This rumour unfolded soon after the accused girl was seen being questioned by the warden in a video.
All of these rumours spread on the campus like 'fire in the forest' and within no time, students started protesting.
On being asked whether she has seen any of these videos which are being called 'objectionable', she said she hasn't but has heard that other students have seen them.
BOOM spoke to nine students of the university to know what these videos were, none of them had seen the video. BOOM also spoke to some of the university students who have been protesting about the incident. They too said they have seen one video - the one where the hostel warden is questioning the girl.
The Senior Superintendent of Police told BOOM that the students are making claims on the basis of one video that was recorded between the hostel warden and the girl.
"If she has recorded any videos and has later deleted from her phone, from the forensic report that will get clear but as of now, there are no such videos like students are claiming," Singh said.
Chandigarh University has no student union or groups and after the incident, the students from other universities, and colleges including the Punjab University student association have extended their support to the students.
Allegations Of A 'Cover Up'
President of Punjab Students Union Lalkar (PSUL) Amanpreet Kaur told BOOM that the girls of the LC hostel were locked inside after the incident turned serious.
She said that police have recorded the statements of girls who spoke in favour of the university administration and other girls who have evidence of the incident were sidelined. She also alleged that police is "covering up" the issue and hiding the facts. Other students from the varsity also made similar accusations about the role of the police.
"Police is claiming that they have not found any objectionable videos of other girls – why do they have arrested the girl under sec 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty)? Why didn't they record statements of girls who tried to commit suicide?" a student asked.
However, the police has rejected allegations of students that they did not give them chance to record their statements.
"When we recorded their statements, no one came forward despite our repeated calls for those who saw the videos. Everyone said videos have been leaked. But none of them has any backing for their claims. We have arrested three people involved in the crime and are investigating the matter," he told BOOM.
Singh explained that the students have some administration issues with the university and by making this incident a ground for their other issues.
Meanwhile, the varsity has formed a nine-member committee to probe the matter and announced "non-teaching days" till September 24. Most of the students from the LC hostel have now returned to their homes.
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