‘It can happen anywhere’: Chandigarh woman, stalked by BJP leader’s son, shares ordeal on Facebook
In her FB post, the woman recounts that she was driving home from the Sector-8 market around 12.15am on Friday night, and crossed the road into Sector 7 near the petrol pump when she noticed an SUV chasing her. It later emerged that the man on the driver’s seat was Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala.punjab Updated: Aug 05, 2017 22:43 IST
Hours after being stalked by two men — one of them is Haryana BJP president’s son — and their eventual arrest, the 29-year-old victim took to Facebook and shared her harrowing experience of being “almost kidnapped” in Chandigarh.
In her post, the woman — whose identity is being withheld as per law — recounts that she was driving home from the Sector-8 market around 12.15am on Friday night, and crossed the road into Sector 7 near the petrol pump when she noticed an SUV chasing her.
There were two men in it. It only later emerged that the man on the driver’s seat in the white Tata Safari Storme was Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala. He and his friend with him, Ashish Kumar, were arrested on charges of stalking, under section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, and drunken driving under section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, from Housing Board Chowk in Manimjara, minutes after the girl called 100 while driving. They later got bail.
In the FB post, she details how the SUV was driving alongside her car and cutting corners in Sector 7, as she headed towards the traffic lights in the adjoining Sector 26. “By now I was totally alert and mildly panicky, so I decided to turn right from the St John’s traffic lights towards Madhya Marg (a more crowded, seemingly safer road),” she wrote. But the SUV blocked her way, forcing her to drive straight into Sector 26.
“At the next turn, I tried to turn again, but this time they went a step further... they blocked the road in front of my car, and the guy in the passenger seat got out of the car and started walking towards me. I reversed as fast as I could and went straight and took the next right turn before they could catch up again,” says her post on social media.
On Madhya Marg now, headed to Panchkula, she dialled police helpline 100, explained the situation, gave her exact location and where she was headed. In the FB post later, she went on to thank the police for their prompt response.
Now she was driving on a straight road for 5-6 km, “and that entire time, the SUV stayed alongside my car, trying to bully me into stopping every 10-15 seconds. She recalled, “I was in a full-blown panic attack by now because they would keep trying to corner me, and I’d somehow manoeuvre my way out and keep moving. My hands shaking, my back spasming from fear, half in tears, half bewildered, because I didn’t know if I’d make it home tonight.”
They kept chasing her all the way close to Hotel Solitaire; “at the traffic lights, blocked my car for the final time”.
Ashish came out and banged on her car window and tried to open the door. “Just as he did this, I saw a PCR [vehicle] pull up... and a couple of cops ran out towards the SUV, nabbing it just in time, because they were blocked in by traffic.”
“I, still shaking from fear, drove straight home, and then came to the police station to file the complaint.” Her father, a senior IAS officer, went with her from their Panchkula home to the Sector-26 police station and the FIR was finally lodged.
- A person can be booked for stalking if he follows a woman and contacts or attempts to contact her to foster personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by her.
- Apart from physically following a woman, stalking can also be done through internet, email and messages on phone.
- Stalking is a bailable offence for the first time. Subsequent offences are non-bailable.
- If proved guilty, a person can be sent to jail for up to three years. In case of subsequent conviction, the jail term may extend to five years. Court can also impose fine of the convict.
- Sexual harassment: Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code pertains to sexual harassment, of which stalking is one of the offences besides criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe and voyeurism.
- Cases of sexual harassment in Chandigarh — 2015: 10 ^ 2016 : 13 ^ 2017: 5 so far
‘If it can happen in Chandigarh...’
In the FB post, she also said, “The 2 boys, who of course, are from influential families with political connections, have been arrested and the complaint has been filed. At the risk of sounding redundant, I need to mention and thank Chd Police again because had it not been for their timely response, I might not be writing this status today.”
“If this is what women deal with in one of the safer cities in the country, where are we going?” she questioned. “I find it shocking, that in a place with cameras at every light and cops every 200 metres, these boys thought they could either get into my car, or take me into theirs, just because they’re from an influential background.”
“I’m lucky, it seems, to not be the daughter of a common man, because what chance would they have against such VIPs? I’m also lucky, because I’m not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere. If this can happen in Chd, it can happen anywhere.”
She also addressed fellow women: “LADIES! Please be proactive about your own safety; NOTE THE NUMBER OF ANY VEHICLE THAT TRIES TO HARASS YOU. DON’T BE AFRAID to call the cops, The minute it starts! Call your parents, if possible, and let them know where you are and the situation you’re in. Try and run away, in the safest way possible. YOUR LIFE IS PARAMOUNT! If he walks towards you, use whatever you can as a weapon.”
She added that she was “never a big fan of weapons, till last night”: “Whether it’s a gun or mace or taser or a golf club or a knife, it’s going to make you feel safer and more confident. STAY SAFE, LADIES!”