OUR TAKE | Chandigarh stalking: Curb the menace of brash VIP brats
Last week’s stalking case once again puts the spotlight on the deeply entrenched VIP culture in the tricity. It’s not the first time that a VIP brat has been caught flouting the law. Chandigarh has a history of cases in which sons of politicians, bureaucrats and police officers have brazenly crossed the line.columns Updated: Aug 07, 2017 19:58 IST
As the power seat of three governments, Chandigarh has possibly the highest per capita VIPs - bureaucrats, police officials and political class. Such preponderance of the high and mighty is the root cause of the city’s deep-seated VIP mindset that often offends the citizens’ sensibilities.
Last week’s stalking case once again puts the spotlight on the deeply entrenched VIP culture in the tricity. It’s not the first time that a VIP brat has been caught flouting the law. Chandigarh has a history of cases in which sons of politicians, bureaucrats and police officers have brazenly crossed the line of decency without suffering any consequences. Behind such deviant conduct is the ‘can-get-away-with-it’ mindset. Often, high-profile cases with VIP perpetrators and women victims either get diluted or buried.
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In such cases, the police action, if at all there is one, has often been guided by VIP mindset.
In dealing with the stalking case involving a son of Haryana BJP chief, Chandigarh police have not really covered themselves with glory. First, they overlooked the girl’s complaint and avoided booking the accused under a tougher section 365 (attempt to kidnap) of the Indian Penal Code which is a non-bailable offence. Equally surprising was the alacrity with which the two accused were given bail by the investigating officer on Saturday morning, something that happens only in the rarest of rare cases. Also, it is strange none of the CCTV cameras on the road taken by the victim were functioning that night.
Stalking as a crime is yet to seep into the lexicon of the tricity. It is quite obvious from the much glorified geri route of Chandigarh, which provides many VIP brats a legit excuse for stalking. Very few realise that it is a form of sexual harassment. No wonder the stalker gets away scot-free after terrorising his victim. Last week’s crime came to light only because the victim, Varnika Kundu, a spunky young woman, decided to go public with her ordeal.
The law has also been rather lax on stalking even though every woman has suffered it in one form or the other during her lifetime. It was only in 2013 that the Indian Penal Code incorporated stalking as a crime. Section 354D of the IPC defines it as: “To follow a woman and contact, or attempt to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or monitor the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.” It is punishable with imprisonment of not less than one year but which may extend to three years.
However, despite the stringent punishment, very few cases reach their logical conclusion. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded 6,266 complaints of stalking in 2015, but the perpetrators were convicted in only 26% of the cases.
We cannot have stalkers in our city, be they VIP brats or ordinary mortals. The VIP culture that compromises the state machinery also needs to go. The law of the land must be followed regardless of the antecedents of the accused. And every crime must beget a suitable punishment. Why should there be any leniency for the high and mighty or their progeny? No one is above the law. Not even the VIPs and their brash brats.