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Monday, August 7, 2017

Chandigarh Stalking - The Possible Plot Within

Team Being Cynical
First the crime – On the early hours of Saturday, two men allegedly stalked a girl in Chandigarh Sector-26 area and tried to abduct her. By the way, the use of the word ‘allegedly’ here is based on the fact that the crime isn’t yet proven either way. All that we have for reference at present are lengthy and detailed Facebook posts (the daughter describing the crime scene while the father asking for support from the civil society) of both the victim and her father, who is also a senior IAS officer in the present Haryana government. Now, the attempted crime is worrisome, more so for fathers of daughters like me. In fact the crime is gruesome and no girl in India must go through the ordeal that the poor girl had to go through. If the said crime and the motives therein are established as claimed by the father-daughter duo during the course of investigation, the perpetrators must be and should be subjected to harshest of punishment. I don’t even mind throwing the wolves under the road-roller if that helps. I am all for it provided the crime is established in its entirety.

But is the claim of the girl and her father looks unquestionable? May be acceptable on face value but the story seems to unfold dramatically if we scratch the surface a little. Knowing how earlier cases of similar nature unfolded itself, it tends to make me little cautious in holding the alleged culprits with contempt so soon. The case involving the Rohtak sisters is a classic example here. Our media went gaga over it at once and if I am not mistaken, most of them hold the girls brave at par with our martyrs. Quite a handful even jumped directly at BJP bashing for ruining the law-and-order in the state. Many in fact demanded some kind of bravery award be bestowed on the girls for their exemplary courage. But we know what that intellectual cacophony led us to. Same was the case with that AAP infected girl of Delhi. The political plot behind that girl’s so called brave claims exposed itself within no time. In both these cases, the girls had to publicly apologize and we haven’t heard of them since then. Now I see similar patterns being followed with this latest claim as well. The same media houses that went gaga earlier have ganged up again and I better be warned of the truth that usually isn't what these gang of thieves cry about.

And for the records, the girl here named Varnika Kundu is already declared a brave soul. Quite interesting, I must say. It is the routine usual suspects that are all-over-the-palace now. To make the matter even more interesting, one of the alleged culprit named Vikash Baral is the son of the Haryana BJP president Subash Baral. There you go; the political plot thickens immediately once the details of the alleged culprits are outlined. So let’s dig in a bit, more so since the brave girl had gone ahead and given an hour long interview on NDTV, claiming and pro-claiming her version again and again. As usual NDTV is forcing its viewers to believe her part without asking any question, as they did with that nonsensical Gurmehar Kaur story. You can read my response to that story here and here. NDTV in the mix vis-à-vis involving a BJP government; caution is warranted and I am all for a cautious approach. In fact I would raise the ‘Level-3’ caution warning system with outlets like NDTV, even with their remote appearance.

As the victim suggests in her FB post and so as her father, we will talk about laws here without any prejudice. As per the girl’s post, she first noticed her stalkers while driving back to her home around 12:15 AM. She was on phone chatting with her friend when she noticed a white colour SUV following her. All these sequence of events were her words only. Now, talking on the phone while driving is an offence under section 184 of the motor vehicles act of India. The said offense may land you in jail for six months. In one of their judgments of 2016 even the apex court suggested for harsher punishment for this particular offence. The judgment can be viewed here. The crime of the alleged culprits is yet to be established while the girl’s first offense is proved based on her own confession. I might sound like making the whole issue trivial but then, the brave girl urged all to talk on the established laws without favouring the powerful and influential. And the elongated FB post of the girl and her father exposes much more than it tries to hide. A little deep reading of both these posts tells a story that looks more like being manufactured than being natural and certainly far from being the truth.

In the same post the girl claims that she saw two men drove parallel to her car from sector 8 till sector 26 and blocked her way at least three times in the course of her ordeal.  At one point the culprits even tried to get into her car and abduct her. How one would feel if complete strangers follow you with presumably ulterior intentions in the mid of the night – she exclaimed in her ‘tour-de-grace’ interview on NDTV. To the lady – it would certainly feel scary and would bring a sense of dejection looking at the crumbling law-and-order. But are the alleged culprits really unknown to the girl as claimed. It certainly doesn’t look like though if you look at the photograph here. The girl is in the middle while Vikash Baral is flanked to her right in quite an affectionate pose. I am not sure, but I haven’t seen (till date) three complete strangers drawing such a cosy portrait over a drink in my life. But what a small minded little sweaty middle class fella like me would ever know about the high class society and its habitants and practice? Though the picture doesn’t coincide perfectly with the girl’s claim, I could be entirely wrong with my perception. By the way, the photograph is on the FB wall for last three months, if you are interested to know the timing of the photo. It was not only there on FB, it also had Varnika Kundu tagged in it and she for some reason/s (must be interesting) didn’t find it appropriate to ‘untag’ herself from complete strangers. It must be another of those high-society traits that I am not aware of. Am I making the whole crime appear trivial again? Honestly I am not. I am just trying to play the devil’s advocate here. The statement the girl gave to the police comes here as complete contradiction to possible realities at the ground level. And here I may not have to reiterate all how serious an offense it is to give false statements to the police.  While the first offense of the girl could land her behind bars for six months, this one may send her packing for at least three years, in upward till seven. I hope the poor girl understands the severity of her claims, more so when she is levelling them against powerful people.

So here is the thing – what made the girl lie in her statement that Vikash Baral is a complete stranger to her when the fact is, she knew him very well? This straightforward lie of the girl makes all her other claims appear flimsy and concocted and I have all the reasons to reject her claims without probing as is. She ain’t a saint here and I won’t mince my words in saying so. Could this be a case of friendship, or may be that little goody-goody affair falling through that led the girl to cry wolf? It has happened in the past and this could easily be the latest instance. It is quite possible that the girl had taken advantage of the law, knowing previous instances where this particular law along with 498(A) being abjectly misused. In their judgment of last month the apex court ruled that in 498(A) the accused won’t be arrested only based on the woman’s statement, as was the case till now. A thorough investigation must establish the crime before police could take action. In the same judgment the court also showed their grave displeasure over the misuse of section 354(D) too and asked for a holistic relook on it. Now I understand what kind of misuse the apex court was worried about. A mere strain in relationship could have led this overzealous girl to go after the alleged culprits, there by throwing our laws to the kitchen sink. That said could this only be a little crack on friendship that led to this fiasco? If we scratch a little further many more interesting skeletons starts to tumble out. Let’s count these skeletons together.

For starters let’s scan the big daddy – ‘The Father Kundu’. Virendra Singh Kundu is presently serving as the additional chief secretary in the tourism ministry of the state. Before the BJP government came into power, he was serving in the same capacity in the ministry of finance and he also was heading the land allotment department as a dual responsibility. Does it ring a bell? Not yet? So let’s add another layer to it. Ashok Khemka in his report has accused Mr. Kundu of mass scale mishandling in the land deals involving Robert Vadra. Now it must have ringed that bell in you, no? Mr. Kundu was extremely close to Mr. Hooda himself, as many photographs, both public and private, would suggest. In fact, he was extremely close to the entire Congress party. He still is entangled in three cases of misappropriation and there is a CBI review pending against him. He was in the first list of IAS officers those were moved from the departments they were holding for having dubious entitlements as a sign of virtual demotion. I am not demeaning the state of Haryana but to be honest, there isn’t much tourism there in the state for Mr. Kundu to jolly around in his car, which is a seventy lakh BMW. Dissatisfaction should be there with Mr. Kundu for being left alone with no work and even lesser money. If insiders in the government to be counted upon, Mr. Kundu could very well go to jail soon for his earlier misadventures. So, could it be possible that the big daddy asked his cute little daughter to help him get rid of his bitterness by employing one of her powerful friends related to the present day government machinery as a scapegoat? Possible? Nonetheless highly probable.

Seeing how the girl has lied about the entire incident, not just on her FB post but also in her statement to the police, thereby proclaiming her known friends as strangers, it appears more like a plot to malign people with whom Mr. Kundu doesn’t enjoy much of a rapport. It is even more interesting how the Congress spokespersons have taken this tread up and started blasting the Haryana government from the word ‘GO’. They in fact have asked for the resignation of Subash Baral. When you last time had seen these jokers howled so much for a molestation/stalking case filed in the country? To be precise, the same people were sleeping quite even after the savage gangrape of Delhi. But today, an FIR for stalking had let these clowns blabber the same phoney narrative all over the place. All the more reason why I find it as a staged drama for political benefits. Hundreds of girls are stalked daily in a place like Gurugram alone and hundreds of FIR are getting lodged on daily basis but the outrage is zeroed on one particular complain where the political semantics look too prominent to miss. May I ask why? Though good, what is so special with this FIR that has caught the honorable attention of these frauds? Intervention of NDTV in hailing the brave girl and calling the accused as criminals already makes the matter even more dubious. Coupled to that, the manner in which the girl is changing her statement with lies flying all around only makes the matter shallow. In fact it is shallow enough for one to see the political dividends at the bottom of the outrage barrel. I am sure there is more to it than just a frightened girl and a worried corrupt father. Wait and watch is the key here for me.

Before I forget, though inconsequential, one must know that the sister of the victim is employed with ‘Scroll.in’ with no designation or work but a handsome pay package. Do I need to elaborate who has the stake in that junk liberal mouthpiece and who invests in the running of that junk? I better not; lets save that one for another post. 

Postscript - The photograph of Varnika with two other person shared here seems to have gone into some controversy. The victim now claims that the person alongside her in the picture isn't Vikash Barala. I leave it for all to judge this claim of her and to see if she isn't bluffing again. As for me - I am not a blind to not recognize people, however voraciously one preaches the other way.

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