'Son Aloof for Months Before Arrest': Bulli Bai Case Accused Vishal Jha's Father
Sudhir Kumar Jha said Vishal "could have been trapped," but "he is innocent."
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Prior to his arrest on 4 January, in connection with the Bulli Bai app case, 21-year-old Vishal Kumar Jha had been aloof from his family for months together. A loner, who connected to friends mainly on social media, he now does not have the means to afford his legal expenses.
Speaking to The Quint, his father Sudhir Kumar Jha said, "He is innocent. He never did anything he is accused of." Jha, who is based in Patna, Bihar, is a ticket examiner in the Indian railways. He further said, "My son was trapped, somehow. We have no idea how this happened."
The family is struggling to arrange Rs 2 lakh to meet Vishal's legal expenses.
From Friendly Boy to Secluded Adult
Vishal, 21, is a second-year civil engineering student of Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, Bengaluru. He has an elder sister who works for an MNC. "The family seems shocked but we have clinching evidence in the case," a Mumbai Police official said, on the condition of anonymity.
Vishal 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.'
In the Bulli Bai app, which came up on GitHub, photographs of scores of Muslim women were uploaded in a bid to 'auction' them. Vishal was the first to be arrested in connection with the case.
Vishal was a bright student when he was doing his schooling in Patna. "There were youngsters who were always hanging out with him," his father said. The warm social outlook, however, changed when he reached Bengaluru for his higher studies.
The youngster hardly maintained any links with the family on phone for months together. "He was always busy and called home only when he needed money," Sudhir Jha said. The reason for his distancing could have been "a group" he got attached to online, a Mumbai Police official said.
'The Group Vishal was Part of'
According to the Mumbai Police officer, Vishal Jha was part of a closely linked group, which continuously shared derogatory statements, lewd comments, and photographs. "It is clear that all the four accused in the case who have been arrested so far are connected to this group."
While the Mumbai police has arrested Vishal Jha, Mayank Rawat, 21, and Shweta Singh, 18, in connection with the case, Delhi Police arrested Niraj Bishnoi, 21, on 6 January.
When asked whether he was aware of Vishal's involvement in any group, his father said, "No. I was not aware. We were not aware of anything." When Vishal visited his hometown, he was always found to be on his phone, chatting away. The family, however, had not checked who his online friends were.
According to authorities at the college he studied, Vishal had no close friends. He had 60 percent attendance and was "not a troublemaker". The college has not taken any legal action against the student, as the authorities are waiting for the Mumbai Police's investigation to "bring out the facts in the case."
Meanwhile, after Vishal's arrest, a Twitter user had accused him of being a 'trad', affiliated to the extreme Hindu right-wing. "We are still investigating all the claims," the police officer said. The family, however, does not have any political links, the official confirmed. "As far as we have understood, they are a middle-class family, who were unaware of what was happening in their son's life."
Sudhir Jha said the family was deeply troubled by the arrest. They have got a lawyer to defend him. "The real culprits should get punished. Vishal can never do such a thing," he reiterated. The youngster is now in police custody.
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