Updated: January 7, 2022 5:06:04 am
A SECOND YEAR civil engineering student in a reputed college in Bengaluru, Vishal Kumar Jha is an introvert with a “very small circle of friends”, said a close relative. He aspired to become an Indian Engineering Service (IES) officer.
The 21-year-old was the first of the four people to be arrested in connection with a web-based app which hosted doctored photographs and objectionable comments targeting Muslim women.
According to Mumbai Police, which arrested him from Bengaluru on Monday, Jha used multiple Twitter handles to post derogatory content from Bullibai app. Jha has told the police he was only following instructions. While he also had an account on Github, where he followed Bullibai app, he told the police that he was in touch with other accused over WhatsApp and Instagram.
According to the police, Jha operated six Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts and seven Gmail accounts. He also had a YouTube account which he once used to upload a video of the Babri Masjid demolition, they said.
As Jha was being questioned by officers inside Crime Branch’s Cyber Police Station at Bandra Kurla Complex, his father sat outside, anxiously waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of his son. While he declined to speak to the media, another relative present there told The Indian Express that Jha’s father was worried about his son’s bail after police custody ends on January 10. The relative said they were also worried about his career, and whether his college would take him back. The family is planning to hire a good lawyer for bail.
Born and brought up in Bihar, Jha belongs to a middle class family and stayed with his parents and an elder sister. After securing 89% in HSC, he aspired to go to IIT but having failed to score high, he took up civil engineering in a Bengaluru college two years ago.
“He is an introvert who had very small circle of friends. He liked playing indoor games like carrom and chess and aspired to become an IES officer,” said the relative, adding that they had no idea about his Internet activities.
One of his social media acquaintances described Jha as a right-wing sympathiser. “There is a group of people called Trads (traditionals) who tweet controversial posts, including many against Muslims, and Jha used to like and retweet the posts. Several times his Twitter handle was suspended,” said an aquaintance.
Relatives said Jha’s father, a Class II railways officer, ensured he got everything he wanted for his career. “His father spent Rs 10 lakh in past two years on his studies and accommodation,” said a relative. “Vishal wanted to pursue higher studies in US … But this case has ruined a lot for him.”
“His parents have no idea about his online activities. He told his father his Twitter account was hacked and that he is innocent.”
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