When a nude video purportedly featuring her started circulating on WhatsApp, little did Shoba Saju know it would turn her world upside down. Three years on, forensic analysis showed that the video did not feature Shoba, but by then her husband had walked out with their three minor children and filed a divorce petition in the family court.
The 36-year-old woman is still pursuing the cyber-crime related to circulation of the video. “My children should be able to move in society proudly, telling others that I am their mother. They should not face a question about their mother’s character,” she said.
It was in October 2015 that Litto Thankachan, an employee at Shoba’s husband Saju Joseph’s electrical goods firm in Kochi, allegedly shared the video in a WhatsApp group, falsely attributing it to Shoba. She filed a complaint with a police station in Kochi, which referred the case to the cyber cell at the behest of the city police commissioner. Litto was arrested.
On examination of the video, lasting 6 minutes and 17 seconds, it was found that the height and movement of the woman in the video did not match those of Shoba. But her husband Saju stuck to the stand that it was Shoba in the video. Soon, Saju started living separately with their three children, then all aged below 15. He also moved a divorce notice saying that Shoba had circulated her nude video. Shoba lived at their house in Kochi for another year before moving to a rented house.
Later, she moved the family court and got permission to meet the children every other Saturday. However, that facility was cancelled after a few months following a complaint of the elder daughter that her mother had tortured her. Shoba said the complaint was false, intended to keep the children away from her.
Sitting in her electrical shop at Kadavanthra in Kochi, Shoba told The Indian Express, “It is two-and-a-half years since I have heard the voices of my children. Sitting here, I can sometimes see my son cycling back home. I sometimes go to the school gate in the evening to watch my daughter returning home.’’
The police got a report from the state forensic laboratory, which said the images in the nude video were not clear and it was not possible to find the source of the video. But the police chargesheeted Litto for the cybercrime without further probe.
However, as the divorce petition was filed on the ground that Shoba had circulated a nude video, she was keen to fight the cybercrime. “The police were keen to dispose of the cybercrime after chargesheeting Litto. But I wanted to scientifically prove that the video was not mine,” she said.
On April 18 this year, Shoba approached state police chief Loknath Behera seeking a re-investigation and to identify the source of the video. The DGP handed over the re-investigation to Kochi City Police Assistant Commissioner K Lalji.
As part of the re-probe, police approached the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), a premier R&D organisation of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, to forensically examine and compare the video with images and videos of the complainant (Shoba). For this, Shoba provided her photographs and video. She also produced herself before a woman medical officer to identify the marks on her body and compare them with the woman in the video.
Last month, C-DAC Thiruvananthapuram reported to the police that no similarity was observed with the woman portrayed in the nude video and any of the photographs and videos provided by the complainant.
Her husband Saju said the video was a tragedy in their life. “It caused us a lot of pain… Even though she has come clean of the video, I don’t think there will be a family reunion,” he said.