Haryana stalking case: BJP's silence, dysfunctional law and order machinery make victim's fight necessary

Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, must be considering himself an incarnate of Lord Krishna.

When Krishna was born in a jail, the entire universe, it is said, conspired to help his father take him to the safety of Yashoda's house.

Locks opened on their own, sentries fell asleep, guards looked the other way, the Yamuna parted and a huge serpent raised its hood to protect the infant Krishna from pouring rain on a tempestuous midnight.

Similar miracles are happening to keep Vikas out of jail.

Representational image

Representational image

Even when he and his friend allegedly stalked an IAS officer's daughter, Varnika Kundu, 29, in the middle of the night on the roads of Chandigarh — not some obscure village of Jhajjar — and tried to abduct her, the law miraculously went into a coma to ensure his prompt release on bail.

And then, like the breakdown of Kansa's security system, all the CCTV cameras on Chandigarh's roads — where the incident allegedly took place — became dysfunctional. A day after the incident, Chandigarh police said they tried to get CCTV footage from nine cameras along the route the woman was allegedly chased — from Sector 7 to Housing Board traffic light — but all were found to be "non-functional".

Who says miracles are just for mythology!

Most of the readers may have found the comparison of an alleged stalker with a deity odious, even blasphemous. But, the truth is, people in power are indeed the new lords and masters of the dysfunctional system in India. Laws are twisted for them, complaints against them are diluted and the entire investigative apparatus is put at their feet, to serve them, not the complainant. There is no reason Vikas should have been out on the streets of Chandigarh again, ready, perhaps, to repeat his Saturday night adventures. Any other person would have been behind bars for allegedly trying to abduct a woman. But, lord Vikas has been let off with a mild rap, perhaps just a minor box on the ear by some fatherly cop chiding him for being out so late at night.

It is a shame.

Why aren't women safe on Indian roads? The answer is evident from the treatment given to Vikas. The Indian police just doesn't want to instil the fear of law in the minds of potential perpetrators by making an example of such high-profile cases. By diluting cases against people blessed with power, they repeatedly send out the message that it is possible to get away with such criminal behaviour.

Varnika, who was allegedly stalked by Vikas, survived the alleged ordeal primarily because of her courage and a bit of luck. Otherwise, according to her statement to the cops, Vikas had almost managed to abduct her by stopping her car and trying to forcibly open the door. So, by letting the accused walk out of the police station after an impromptu bail, the law is actually penalising the victim for her courage and resolve. It is telling her — and everyone following the case — that criminal intent is inconsequential, it is the degree of the success of its execution that decides the degree of punishment. That since Vikas did not succeed in his alleged criminal act, the law can just watch him go free.

Equally shameful is the silence of BJP. In his first speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, prime minister Narendra Modi had asked parents to take the responsibility for the actions of their sons.

"Today, when we hear about incidents of rape, our heads hang in shame. People give different arguments. Some blame it on a psychological problem. Every parent who has a 10-year-old girl at home, asks them where are they going, when will they come back and tell them to call back home after reaching their place.

"But have you ever asked your son where he is going, why are they going and who are their friends? After all, the person committing the crime is also someone's son," Modi had said in his Independence Day speech.

Given the background of the prime minister's preachings, his commitment to "beti bachao", it was morally incumbent on BJP to speak out against the incident. But, so far, unequivocally condemning it and holding the father responsible in accordance with the prime minister's advice is a utopian dream. In fact, its leaders have shamefully resorted to questioning the victim and, in the standard patriarchal — and blatantly anti-Modi — argument, asking what Kundu was doing on the roads so late in the night.

The cowardice of the cops in dealing with the accused because of his links to ruling party, BJP, the silence of the ruling cabal and the pliable system, are precisely the reasons why Varnika's fight is important. She has spoken out in spite of the odds, decided to fight even when the cost of taking on the government that employs her father could be prohibitive and potentially disastrous.

Every Indian who wants our roads to be safe should join the Kundus for justice. Otherwise, the miracles of the modern Indian state that saved Vikas from going to jail would obliterate the line between devils, demons and our lords.

Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 20:03 PM

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