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'Bulli Bai': Bengaluru College Won't Take Punitive Action on Arrested Student

Vishal Kumar Jha will neither face college probe nor punitive measure despite a criminal case involving abuse.

Updated
Crime
3 min read
'Bulli Bai': Bengaluru College Won't Take Punitive Action on Arrested Student
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Vishal Kumar Jha, the 21-year-old who was arrested on Tuesday, 4 January in connection with the Bulli Bai app case, may not face any internal enquiry in Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, Bengaluru, where he studies. This, despite most educational institutions making inhouse probes mandatory when students get embroiled in criminal cases.

The lack of probe would mean that Jha may continue to be a student in the college without facing penal action, possible only by an internal enquiry, despite Mumbai police booking him under six sections of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly promoting derogatory content that targeted Muslim women on GitHub.

The Bulli Bai app, created on 1 January, had posted personal details including photographs of scores of Muslim women with an intention to 'auction' them virtually.

Speaking to The Quint, a college management representative said on the condition of anonymity, "He is a young student and we have to think about his career too. It is not yet clear whether he is guilty. We are not planning any action as of now."

Jha is a third semester or second year student of civil engineering in the college.

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'Rules in Place to Probe Ragging, Not Online Abuse'

While the college's stand could be justified had there been no precedence of punitive action against students embroiled in legal tangle, the institution is known to set up internal enquiries for initiating warranted punishment for ragging.

"But ragging is different. For that we have committees to enquire the matter. In this case, the facts have not really come out," the senior college representative said. The college, however, will cooperate with the police investigation, he said.

However, the college has not yet taken up the case in the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) which is expected to investigate complaints regarding sexual harassment.

"Now the student is not in the college. We will take up the matter when he is back," said the official, even as the student is in police custody and not yet granted bail.

Jha is booked under IPC sections 153(A) for 'creating enmity between religious groups', 153(B) for 'prejudice to national integration', 295(A) for 'deliberate malicious act to outrage religious feelings', 354 D for 'stalking', 509 for 'insulting modesty' and 500 for 'defamation', apart from section 67 of the IT act that pertains to 'transmitting obscene content in electronic form'.

When The Quint asked the senior college official what action is usually taken when a student is accused of ragging, he said, "We first enquire into the matter and suspend the student. In some cases, we rusticate the student, depending the severity of the matter."

In Jha's case, however, the college would be lenient, he said, because there is no legal framework or rule which the college is expected to follow for an alleged cybercrime.

Even when the crime pertains to online abuse? "What happened on the app is not part of Indian culture. But, we do not know whether the student was just following others."

'Student No Trouble in College'

The empathetic tone of the college management, however, is based on the student's academic and personal performance in the institution.

"In college, he was like any other regular student who came to the institution only to attend classes," the official said. Jha has 60 percent attendance, he added. While the mandatory attendance is 75 percent, "he could have made up the loss in the last two months of the semester," the official said.

From the time he was enrolled in the college, Jha was never "trouble making", he said. When Mumbai police came knocking on 3 January, Jha was attending his classes. "We called him from the class and handed him over," the official said. The college is not connected to the case in any way as the student was a day-scholar and not a hosteler, he added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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