Lucknow: Barely a fortnight after the Chandigarh University campus in Punjab saw large protests over the leak of alleged “secret” videos of female students, a NEET aspirant residing in a private hostel in Kanpur Thursday caught a hostel staffer allegedly filming her while she was bathing.
At Sai Niwas Girls Hostel in Kaka Deo area, the woman noticed a phone kept near a broken portion of the bathroom door and realised she was being filmed.
When she raised an alarm, the staffer was caught by other female residents of the hostel and his phone was taken from him. He was made to enter his passcode by the women who then allegedly found many videos of other female residents.
The accused, identified only by his first name Rishi, employed as a cleaner at the hostel for the past eight years, had allegedly been secretly making videos of women for some time, according to the hostel residents.
Over 20 residents of Sai Niwas went together to the Rawatpur police station and filed a complaint the same day.
“The cleaner arrived when one of the girls was taking a bath. She saw him shooting her video using his phone. When she raised an alarm, we made a complaint call to 1090 [women helpline]. When his phone was checked, we found it had several videos of us which he had shot. We don’t know how many exactly, but there were many of them which we saw when the girls scrolled through his mobile. [We suspect] many of them were later deleted by him,” one of the students told media persons outside the Rawatpur police station.
Additional Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, Anand Prakash Tiwari told ThePrint the accused was arrested Thursday.
Kanpur Police arrested Sai Niwas warden Seema Pal and caretaker Manoj Pandey Friday. The two had “sided with the accused” and “tried to protect him”, alleged hostel residents. According to reports, the duo had not paid heed to their complaints about the accused suddenly entering rooms on the pretext of cleaning.
“They said that he has been working for them for so long and that they trust him and didn’t believe he could do such a thing,” a hostel resident claimed.
An FIR has been lodged against Rishi, Pal and Pandey under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 354C (voyeurism), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence by person bound to inform) and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman),” Kanpur DCP, West, Vijay Dhull told ThePrint.
“They were in the role of the guardian but rather than immediately informing the police, they tried to shield the accused,” he added.
According to a female resident of the Sai Niwas hostel, about 60-70 students from various districts of Uttar Pradesh reside in the private hostel and are taking coaching for entrance exams like the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET).
The board hanging outside the building, a photograph of which ThePrint has accessed, claims the hostel was the “temporary residence” of a Provincial Police Service (PPS) officer. The officer is currently posted in Bulandshahr, ThePrint has learnt.
However, according to Kanpur Police, the property belongs to a cloth trader, identified as Shashi Somani, who had rented it out to Pandey. “The lease was executed on 25 February. We have contacted the [PPS] officer, who denied any links with the property. The owner will also be called during the investigation,” said Dhull.
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‘Matter is very sensitive’
The police have not yet shared the exact number of videos found in Rishi’s phone or the number of female students who may have been filmed.
“Interrogation is on. We will inform you by morning because a similar incident has taken place in Chandigarh [University], and we don’t want anything unnecessary. … The matter is very sensitive. Modesty of females is involved…. So, we can’t reveal all the details. We can share them clearly only in the morning,” Additional DCP, West, Lakhan Singh Yadav told ThePrint Thursday.
ThePrint reached Yadav via phone Friday for an update but did not receive a response.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Kalyanpur, Dinesh Shukla told the media that the accused’s mobile has been seized and sent for forensic examination.
“We will get this investigated by forensic and surveillance [teams]. Suitable action will be taken. The NEET aspirant was the first to lodge complaint. After her, 10-12 more women approached us. If there is some other employee or persons involved, action will be taken against them, too,” he said.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)
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