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Siddaramaiah Govt runs into controversy over Udupi college sleaze video case

Siddaramaiah, CM of Karnataka.

 Bengaluru: After facing the public wrath over its attempts to withdraw the murder and rioting charges filed against those accused of indulging in communal violence at DJ Halli and KG Halli in Bengaluru in 2020, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka has come under fire once again for trying to “shield” three girls from a minority community of allegedly installing “secret cameras” and filming Hindu girls using the washrooms at a college in Udupi and handing over the “sleaze videos” to their male accomplices for blackmailing and circulation.

  The management of Netrajyothi Para-medical College said the three girls had claimed that they had “mistakenly” done the filming, and after the victim raised a complaint, they deleted the video in her presence. The victim did not want to file a police complaint, but the college had placed the accused girls under suspension, the management said.

 Suo motu case registered

   The Malpe police have registered a suo motu case against the three accused, Amatul Shaifa, Shabanaz and Aliya and the management of the college, for “violation of the women’s dignity” and illegal filming and circulation of the videos to “their boyfriends”. While the BJP termed the incident as a “jihadi activity” and demanded the arrest of the accused, state home minister G Parameshwara termed it as a “prank” and accused the BJP of playing “petty politics” and trying to communalise the incident.

  Parameshwara, who is already facing “appeasement charges” over his action to withdraw cases in communal riots based on a letter written by Tanveer Sait, a Congress MLA from Mysuru, described the Udupi incident as “a prank among friends” and asked: “Should it be blown out of proportion and given a communal colour? Weren’t these things happening in the past in colleges?”

  The incident came to light when Roshni Samant, a former student leader of Oxford University, wrote on her twitter handle that she was from Udupi and was disturbed to learn that not only videos and photos of “unsuspecting girls” were taken, but they were “circulated in the community WhatsApp group by the perpetrators.”

 Following the tweet, minister Priyank Kharge called it a “fake story” and asked the Malpe police to visit Samant’s parents at Udupi and make “enquiries.” The police knocked on the parents’ door late at night and recorded their statement. But, confirming the incident, Udupi SP, Akshay HM, registered two separate cases the very next day and has taken up the investigation.

 Shooting the messenger

 Former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai criticised the police action of “harassing” Roshni Samant’s parents as a case of “shooting the messenger” and urged the government to initiate serious action against the “mischief makers” by thoroughly inquiring as to how long and at whose behest the girls had acted.

  The police have seized the mobile phones of the accused and reportedly, on examination did not find any “incriminating evidence.” Kushboo Sundar, a former actress and member of the Human Rights Commission, who visited Udupi, also confirmed that the confiscated mobiles did not reveal anything and expressed her suspicion that the videos had either been deleted or the mobiles obtained by the police were not the ones used during the “crime.”

  The activists of Akhila Bharitiya Vidyarthi Parishat staged a protest on Thursday in front of the college and demanded a “comprehensive investigation” into the incident and punishment of the guilty.