SIT finds ‘no objectionable videos’ of other women on suspect’s phone

Chandigarh: A special investigation team (SIT) of the Punjab Police that has been probing the Chandigarh University video leak case has found “no objectionable videos or pictures” of other women on the phone of the first-year female student accused of filming others secretly in the common hostel washroom.

A 500-page chargesheet submitted by the SIT in a Mohali court Wednesday states that “forensic examination of the mobile phone of the accused — that included sieving through the content which she had deleted — found some general pictures of other girls in the common areas of the hostel”.

It also says that the accused “had attempted to make objectionable videos of other girls in her hostel to pass it on to Sanjeev Singh”, an army man who had allegedly been blackmailing her online.

The case had made headlines in mid-September when the woman’s hostel-mates had approached their warden with the suspicion that they were being secretly photographed and videographed by the accused student. The woman, Singh and two others were arrested the same month.

According to the charge sheet, the woman, a resident of Himachal Pradesh who is pursuing MBA studies, under pressure from Singh, had shared objectionable pictures of herself with him. He, however, continued to blackmail her, demanding nude pictures and videos of other women in the hostel.

“The accused girl attempted to make one such video using her mobile phone by placing it through the door of a washroom, but was immediately caught by her hostel-mates who then reported the matter to the warden,” Additional Director General of Police Gurpreet Kaur Deo told ThePrint.

Deo supervised the working of the SIT headed by Rupinder Kaur Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ludhiana.

Bhatti told ThePrint that the accused woman’s “chat with Sanjeev shows that she did try to resist his demands, but could not out of sheer fear”.

In the aftermath of the incident at Chandigarh University in Gharuan, students staged a protest after it was rumored that some girls had attempted to commit suicide. “There is no evidence of any suicide by any student,” said Deo.


Also read: To tackle incidents like the Chandigarh University one, India needs to regulate social media


Findings of investigation

Giving details of the findings of the SIT, Deo told ThePrint that the accused woman had barely joined the hostel when the incident took place.

“The girl was in some kind of a relationship with a boy in Shimla until one year ago and had voluntarily shared objectionable pictures of herself during the course of that relationship. Then one day, she received a message on WhatsApp from Sanjeev Singh — posing as one Rankaj Verma of Shimla — claiming that he had her nude pictures which he would share with her family,” explained Deo.

“Since the girl had shared such pictures with her ex-boyfriend, she got scared that he had further shared her pictures. She started chatting with Sanjeev, who then forced her to share objectionable pictures of herself. After she did that, he continued to blackmail her, asking for similar pictures and videos of other girls in the hostel,” added Deo.

The chargesheet added that Singh did share the girl’s pictures with her father and a maternal aunt.

According to Deo, Singh was picked up by the police after following due process. She said he was using a mobile number that had been discarded by one of his colleagues.

“We found that the number Sanjeev was using had been listed 68 times as a fraudster on Truecaller,” said Deo.

Bhatti told ThePrint that Singh and the accused woman had no connection until he contacted her on WhatsApp.

“He used an app to collect WhatsApp profiles of hundreds of people. He stole one such profile — of Rankaj Verma — and sent a similar blackmail message to several girls and waited for a response. Since the accused girl had already shared objectionable photos of herself with her former friend, she ended up engaging with Sanjeev believing he had her pictures and would share them with her family,” said Bhatti.

“The reason that all the people involved in this case are from Himachal Pradesh except Sanjeev is that he used the same cluster of WhatsApp profiles he had downloaded from the app to both steal an identity and find victims,” ​​added Bhatti.

Apart from the female student and Singh, the police arrested her ex-boyfriend and Verma. While the girl and Sanjeev are in jail, the other two are on bail and have not been listed as accused in the case.

The chargesheet against the woman and Singh has been filed under Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 354C (voyeurism), 354D (stalking), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (insulting modesty of woman) and 511 (punishable with other offenses) of the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the IT Act.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)


Also read: ‘Bid to quell protests’ — Chandigarh campus tense as classes canceled for a week after ‘video leak’


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