The army will not go ahead with the recruitment process of three men accused of molesting two Haryana sisters on a bus after a video of the women thrashing the alleged molesters sparked widespread outrage across the country, army sources said on Monday.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear a strong message should be sent that there was no place for such men in the army while the Haryana chief minister said the women would be honoured for their “act of bravery” on Republic Day as public support for the sisters grew on social media.
"We (the army) take such issues very seriously and we have a zero-tolerance policy. Two of the youths had cleared physical and medical tests in one of the rallies held in Haryana recently but they would not be allowed to take part in further process which is a written test," sources said.
Aarti Kuhar, 22, and her sister, Pooja, 19, were travelling in a Haryana Roadways bus on Friday on their way to Government College for Women in Rohtak district, when the three men allegedly molested them. The women protested at first and then hit back with their hands, legs and even a belt, while other passengers watched silently.
A pregnant woman, sitting next to the sisters, captured the incident on her mobile phone camera and shared it on WhatsApp. The video went viral in no time.Watch:Haryana sisters thrash molesters in bus, mute passengers look on
“Go brave girls! #girlrising and wake up bystanders! Its shameful, the only one who intervened was a pregnant woman!” tweeted Freida Pinto, star of Academy-award winning film Slumdog Millionaire.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced a cash reward of Rs 31,000 rupees each for the sisters, saying he hoped the publicity would sensitise others to the issue. “The kind of work that has been done by these two girls is praiseworthy,” he said.
A local court sent the three men to jail on Monday while the government suspended the bus driver and conductor for failing to protect the women.
The sisters, who stay with their parents in Thanakhurd village in Sonepat district, said the three men threw pieces of paper with their phone numbers at the women who did not respond. Angry at being rebuffed, the men asked them to vacate their seats.
“They said girls were meant to sit on bus bonnets and if we did not leave the seat for them, they would throw us out,” said Pooja.
Aarti said the conversation became heated but it was not until one of the men molested her that she hit them. “A pregnant lady tried to raise her voice, but the men were unmoved and continued groping us with their hands,” she added.
The incident has once again highlighted the issue of women’s safety after the December 2012 brutal gang-rape of a young girl in Delhi that sparked nationwide protests. Haryana has also been in the news because of its skewed sex ratio and khap panchayats that routinely issue diktats against women.
(With agency inputs)