Chandigarh stalking case symptom of deepening crisis of insecurity

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, Aug 8: It is courage and boldness exhibited by Varnika Kundu to fight back that signals there is hope to strongly confront deepening crisis of insecurity in the country. Varnika Kundu faced harassment-it is a soft word- at the hands of two stalkers on the Chandigarh highway in the middle of the night for about half an hour. One of them happened to be Vikas Barala, power drunk brat of Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party president Subhash Barala. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent despite the national outrage.

Till a few years ago, till the Nirbhaya tragedy, such incidents would not even be taken notice of. It was the macabre Nirbhaya rape in the capital of the country that shook this nation. Thousands of young men and women protested in Delhi. Rahul Gandhi stayed away and did not meet them to share the grief as the anger spilled out on roads. The countdown for the ouster of UPA started with that tragedy that was compounded with this indifferent behaviour of those who were supposed to join them. Of course, the Dr Manmohan Singh government acted quickly.

In Chandigarh case, the police was quick to reach the spot to apprehend the culprits. It is the later part of police action that has come under the scanner as Vikas and his friend were booked under lighter offences and the case seems to have been diluted. Of course, the FIR can be amended at any stage during investigation and that is what the police have assured.

What is appalling is the attitude of the BJP leaders including Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Even the Chandigarh BJP MP Kiron Kher did not react initially. That is what is called, using the cliché, double standards. In case the BJP had been in opposition, the situation would have been different and the saffron brigades would have hit the streets. The Congress is so worn out that it lacks even this capacity.

Modi sold dreams during the election campaign and gave slogans one after the other after taking over as the Prime Minister to translate these dreams into reality. However, at the same time, an environment is being encouraged that is leading to insecurity. Varnikas can be stalked and attacked on any road. People travelling in the trains don’t feel secure. Food habits are being dictated. The stalkers of Varnika belong to this section of the people.

Here is the case in which Modi could have set an example by telling Subhash Barala to resign. Haryana chief minister extended a funny logic that the father can’t be punished for the actions of the son. But then the son got emboldened only due to his powerful father.

Such cases might be common in other cities but Chandigarh is known to be among the safest urban settlements in the country where women move about without any fear. There are professions like hospitality and journalism in which the timings have little meaning. Varnika works is a DJ and has to work late hours. It is for the state to provide her the environment of safety. Rather this is among the primary responsibilities of any government. People don’t elect their representatives so that they just make money after forming the government without caring for those who elect them. Why the people should demand safe environment when it is the responsibility of the government to assure the same.

The people who rule this country must assure ordinary citizens that they are safe. The government at the centre can’t pass the buck on the logic of law and order being a state subject. Chandigarh is a union territory and administered directly by the Union Home ministry.

The government must not only assure safety and security to the people but also give out the signals that this assurance would be implemented in letter and spirit. Those vitiating environment and creating insecurity in the minds of the people must be checked. It is feudal mind-set to treat women as lesser human beings. It is people with such mind-sets who are trying to dictate. It is for this reason that only effective intervention at the highest level is called for.


Jagtar Singh


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