Rape in India
A protester with a gag tied around her mouth takes part in a silent protest for a gang rape victim in New Delhi December 29, 2012.REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Five college students were arrested on Wednesday (July 3), on charges of raping a 19-year-old girl in the Puttur area of Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district in March this year. The matter came to light after a video of the incident was widely shared on social media and instant messaging applications.

According to the police, the accused took the victim to a forested area and raped her. Rumours of the girl being drugged first were dismissed by the Superintendent of Police BM Laxmi Prasad.

The accused had threatened the girl that the video will be shared on social media if she complained about the incident to anyone. The video shows three boys raping the girl – who belongs to a Dalit community - while the fourth one filmed the incident. The video was allegedly circulated by the fifth accused.

As the video went viral, district police registered a Suo Motu case to stop the circulation of the video under the relevant sections of the Information Technology Act at the Puttur women's police station. They also appealed the victim to register a complaint.

The accused, identified as Gurunandan, Sunil, Prakyath, Kishan and Prajwal, who are students of Vivekananda college, have been charged under Section 341 (wrongful restraint) and 376(d) (gang rape) of the Indian Penal Code, and sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the IT Act.

According to a Times of India report, the accused are also active members of Puttur unit of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. They have been suspended from the college based on the police complaint.

"The incident took place during college holidays. Based on police complaint, we have suspended all 5 students," said the college authorities.

The incident comes months after the gang-rape case in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, where a 19-year-old victim was raped and filmed by four men in February this year. Upon investigation, it was found out that the accused were involved in serial gang-rape cases, and could be carrying out a racket for at least seven to eight years.