The Udupi police asserted that the incident was not communal and that an unrelated old video was being used to flare up tensions.

By Bellie Thomas

The Udupi police on Tuesday, 25 July, categorically denied any communal angle in the Udupi college incident in which three women students of a paramedical institution were suspended for allegedly recording another student in the ladies’ room.

What seemed like an incident of bullying was given a communal spin with allegations of “jihad” and speculations of a “statewide network to target Hindu women” by several handles, including the Karnataka BJP’s official social media pages.

This compelled the police to clarify that there was no communal angle to the incident. An old and unrelated video being circulated with false claims added to the sensitive situation.

After the Karnataka police landed at the doorstep of Rashmi Samant — the owner of one of the accounts that peddled misinformation about the incident — to verify details of her claims, BJP leaders in the state deemed it “harassment”.

Yashpal Suvarna, the BJP MLA from Udupi,  even visited the residence of Rashmi Samant to show solidarity and warned against police action.

Even as the police deemed the incident a “prank that went wrong”, several right-wing social media handles exaggerated details, added misinformation, and attributed communal colours to the incident, claiming that the students accused of recording the video belonged to a minority community.

The Udupi district’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Hakay Akshay Machhindra said it was an isolated incident, and reiterated that there were no communal intentions involved in it.

Machhindra also corroborated the official version. “Our probe has not revealed anything communal. Our sources confirmed that there were no other videos and the ones that were circulating are either old or from other states,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.