Chandigarh University video row: Prime accused held in Shimla; students' protest continues
Students were not willing to believe the administration with some of them accusing the varsity authorities of suppressing the incident. A fresh protest held on the campus on Sunday evening
The prime accused in the Chandigarh University video leak row was arrested from the Himachal Pradesh capital on Sunday, police said.
The woman student, who was earlier arrested by the police, had purportedly sent some nude images and videos to her male friend in Shimla and these were leaked.
Protests erupted on the campus of a private university in Punjab's Mohali over "rumours" that objectionable videos of several women students were recorded by a hosteller, following which chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday ordered a probe.
After a preliminary investigation, police arrested a woman student and dispatched a team to apprehend a youth in Himachal Pradesh.
Whose video did she share?
Punjab's Additional Director General of Police, Gurpreet Deo, who reached the Chandigarh University campus along with other senior officials to take stock of the situation after the Saturday night protests, told reporters that the woman student appeared to have shared a video of herself with the youth and no objectionable video of any other student was found.
University authorities also rejected as "false and baseless" reports that claimed videos of several women students in the varsity hostel were made and leaked on social media and students had attempted suicide after the episode.
However, a fresh protest was held on the university campus on Sunday evening by a large number of students, including males, with some of them accusing the university authorities of suppressing the incident.
Most of the protesters were dressed in black clothes and raised slogans like "we want justice" in the presence of police.
Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Sheel Soni told reporters that the protests occurred in the university past Saturday midnight after "rumours" that videos of several women students had been made and leaked.
The arrested student's mobile phone has been seized for forensic analysis, he said, adding no suicide attempt by any student or death has occurred.
An FIR under IPC section 354-C (voyeurism) and the IT Act has been registered in the matter and further probe is on, officials said.
Opposition Demands Strict Action
"Sad to hear about the unfortunate incident at Chandigarh University... our daughters are our honour... a high-level inquiry has been ordered into the incident... severe action will be taken against whoever is found guilty," chief minister Bhagwant said Mann in a tweet in Punjabi.
I am in touch with the administration, he said, while appealing to people not to believe rumours.
The incident sparked a flurry of reactions from political parties and the central and state women's rights bodies too stepped in.
Opposition leaders including Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, former chief minister Amarinder Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa demanded a free and fair probe and exemplary punishment to the guilty.
Don't Believe the Rumours, Say Police
Briefing reporters at the university campus, ADGP Deo, who is also holding the charge of women and child affairs, said many rumours about the case were circulating on various social media platforms.
"There are 4,000 girl students who live in the hostel. One has been arrested by police. Her phone has been taken into police possession and state cyber crime is conducting its analysis".
Deo said that three to four girl students spotted the accused student in the common washroom where she was taking some pictures with her phone "which they thought she was taking from underneath the bathroom door... They then reported the matter to the warden and subsequently the police were informed".
"I want to clarify after interaction with the group of girls they are happy that their concerns have been addressed. Their concern was if there is any video of other girls on her phone. Prima facie we did not come across any video of other girls," ADG DEO said.
In a statement, Chandigarh University Pro-Chancellor R.S. Bawa said, There are rumours that girls have committed suicide whereas the fact is that no girl has attempted any such step. No girl has been admitted to hospital in the incident.
Bawa said, There is another rumour which is circulating through media that an objectionable MMS has been found of different students. This is totally false and baseless."
More to it than Meets the Eye?
A student claimed that the objectionable videos were made but were later deleted and the accused student's phone was also broken.
Another student said more than 10 girls in the hostel suffered panic attacks on Saturday evening. She claimed that the boys' hostel had been converted into a girls' hostel recently and lacked facilities.
Notably, in a video, the warden is purportedly seen asking the woman student, Who told you to record the video?... You will be suspended".
The warden is then seen pointing towards some other women students who are also present, and could be heard saying, "Don't these girls have honour? At whose behest did you do this? Who told you to make it?
(With news agencies' inputs)