Friday 18 August 2017 News Updated at 03:08 AM IST
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Let stalkers cool heels behind bars - Deccan Herald
Let stalkers cool heels behind bars
Deccan Herald
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The stalking and attempted abduction of a young women returning from work by a bunch of drunken youth in Chandigarh has a chillingly familiar pattern. As she was returning home, her car was blocked more than once on the main roads in the heart of the city, the two youths almost forced her to come out of the car and it was only a miracle that she could escape from the horrific scene. Such incidents are frequent in every city but mostly go unreported in India. In the Chandigarh case, the woman in question called the police immediately and her tormentors were arrested. The victim narrated the incident to the police in the presence of her father, an IAS officer. It was a clear cut of offences under Sections 354 D (stalking), 341 (wrongful restraint), 365 (kidnap) and 511 (attempt to commit offences punishable with imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, some of which are non-bailable. However, immediately after the complainants left, the police started getting calls from the family of the principal accused, who happened to be the son of the ruling BJP's Haryana unit chief Subhash Barala. The charges for non-bailable offences were dropped and the accused were immediately bailed out.

As if this brazen exhibition of political influence was not enough, members of the accused family resorted to victim-shaming, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar washed off his hands off on the spacious plea that the law will take its course, senior police officials supervising investigation asked the scribes to refrain from media trial. The CCTV footage was reported missing, but surfaced 72 hours after the incidence under intense media prodding. Instead of pulling up the father of the errant son, the BJP started indulging in moral policing about how the girls should behave and not come out of house after dusk, using the usual tropes. The script of the law enforcement agencies bending backwards in crimes committed by the kith and kin of those in power is not unfamiliar. This time it should be written in reverse. One of the reasons why cases of stalking are rising is because women do not come forward to report such cases. The perpetrators have been identified and there is independent evidence supporting the victim's version.

The brave girl and her family have announced that they would not rest till justice is done. If the police continue to procrastinate in the name of continuing investigation, it is a right case for judicial intervention. The victim has silenced her detractors by asking: "Why should I go into hiding? I am the victim, not the accused." The question should stir the conscience of the nation. The media, the judiciary the civil society as the political class cutting across party lines must support her fight. The case must be followed to its logical conclusion. There should be no place for stalkers to hide.

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