Tuesday , 11 December 2018

Making Men With Good Character

The alleged stalking of a 29-year-old female DJ Varnika Kundu, daughter of a senior IAS officer, in Chandigarh by Vikas Barala, the 23-year-old son of the Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala, and his friend is a most shameful incident. Now CCTV footage of the route has shown a white SUV (allegedly driven by Vikas Barala) in active pursuit of the woman’s black car, which is the first confirmation of her account of being chased and terrorized on the streets of Chandigarh around midnight on Friday. The confirmation gives some hope to the victim that justice would be done. Her experience was harrowing. She was returning home in her car when the two men, who were drunk, chased her in a SUV and blocked her path twice. Once one of them got down and tried to open the door of her car; then banged her door and window, demanding her to open it. The pursuit went on for 25 minutes. The state of Varnika Kundu – eyes blinded with tears, heart pumping with fear, body shuddering – can only be imagined. On her Facebook post, she wrote that she felt “lucky, because I’m not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere.”
The BJP is in power in Haryana, so the popular fear naturally is that the police would go soft on the case, which initially they did. They did not record it as a case of attempted kidnapping, even though the woman in her complaint said that the stalkers blocked her car and tried to open its door. Even about CCTV footage the police first said most cameras on the route were not functioning. It was only after noises were made in the media that the police admitted they had the CCTV footage which confirmed the car of the victim being chased by a white SUV. The police have charged the stalkers only with stalking and drunken driving, two crimes for which bail is easily given, so they were bailed out within hours of being arrested. Had they been booked under attempted kidnapping, they would not have got bail. It is clear from the police behaviour that in the first three days they tried their best to weaken the victim’s case. It hardly matters whether the police officials did so after phone calls from ministers or on their own with the presumption that their political bosses must be watching and would not like them going hard after the son of the ruling party
The BJP, both in Haryana and in Delhi, is divided on the incident. There is one section which has shown its arch-conservative colours by asking why the young woman was out of home around midnight. Haryana BJP vice president Ramveer Bhatti belongs to this section. He said why the woman was “allowed to stay out late? Parents must take care of their children… They shouldn’t allow them to roam at night. Children should come home on time, why stay out at night?” BJP MP Anurag Mathur denounced Ramveer Bhatti’s attitude, saying such mindset had to be fought. Kirron Kher also found it wrong. People like Bhatti have only done disservice to the BJP by making those remarks. This is an era in which younger generations want more and more freedom. Women have equal rights to move about freely, whatever the time of the day or night. Such mindset as Bhatti’s belongs to the past and if the BJP leadership does not cleanse the mindset of such leaders in states or in Delhi, it will only end up alienating the youth of the country. There are thousands of Bhattis on the social media who have been posting pictures of the victim with male friends taken from her Facebook account in order to prove that she was a “woman of loose character” and hence cannot be trusted for the truthfulness of her complaint against the Haryana state BJP president’s son. These thousands of anonymous Ramveer Bhattis are RSS-BJP-Modi supporters and by indulging in such dirty propaganda will only cause the alienation of the youth of the country, young women in particular, from the party.
The BJP would be gaining sympathy if they allow the case to go on entirely on its merit, without the slightest interference or dilution of the charges. The opposition demand for the resignation of Subhash Barala is pointless as he was not the stalker; it was his son. However, the people of the country, and women in particular, would expect that Subhash Barala does not misuse his position of privilege to influence the course of the investigation and prosecution. The nation would also expect that Subhash Barala now vows to develop a good moral character in his son. After all, making men with good character is the ultimate mission of the

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