Chandigarh stalking case: Vikas Barala, friend arrested, charged with bid to kidnap
LAW CATCHES UP: Police slap tougher charges under Sections 365, 511 of IPC against duo for abduction bid based on legal opinion, CCTV footagepunjab Updated: Aug 10, 2017 08:36 IST
Haryana BJP chief’s son Vikas Barala and his friend Ashish Kumar were arrested on Wednesday after attempt to kidnapping charge was slapped against the two accused of stalking a disc jockey.
The Chandigarh Police, criticised for going soft on them, slapped non-bailable charges against the men five days after they allegedly followed 29-year-old Varnika Kundu’s car in a midnight chase.
“Following interrogation, new facts emerged and we decided to press two new charges… The accused will be produced in court tomorrow. We will seek police remand from the court,” Chandigarh director general of police Tajender Singh Luthra said.
The 23-year-old Barala and 27-year-old Kumar surrendered at a fortified Sector 26 police station on a rainy afternoon amid high drama and huge media presence.
They were summoned at 11am but they showed up in a white Ford Endeavou almost hours later amid tight security, as policemen weathered pouring rain and a scrum of media and public, including Congress and Aam Aadmi Party protesters.
The men, who are lawyers by training, were questioned for two hours before police booked them under Sections 365 (kidnapping or abduction with intent to confine a person) and Section 511 (attempt to commit offence punishable with life imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were briefly arrested on August 5 after Kundu approached police but were released as the charges were bailable. The Opposition accuse the Centre and the Haryana government of interfering in the case and trying to defend the party leader’s son.
Chandigarh Police reports to the Centre as the city is a union territory.
“The arrests and new charges are based on legal opinion, new pieces of evidence in the form of CCTV footage, statement of witnesses and the map of the route,” Luthra said.
Police had also come under fire after they said the CCTV cameras along the route were not functional. Later, they said they retrieved footage, which is vital to proving the stalking charge, from five cameras.
Well versed with law, the men refused to give blood and urine samples after their arrest on August 5 and it could go against them during the trial, Luthra said.
Minutes before the surrender, the BJP tried to wash its hands of the accused. “Vikas (Barala) and the BJP are separate. The opposition parties are trying to mislead people by saying that the BJP is influencing the probe,” party spokesman Jawahar Yadav said.
As he was speaking to media, Vikas Barala’s father Subhash walked in and said his son would join investigation. He left as abruptly as he came.
On August 5, Barala and Kumar allegedly started following Kundu in their SUV at around 12.20am. During the 20-minute chase, the SUV pulled up close to her car several times and even tried to block her way, Kundu said in her complaint.
“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 wrote in a Facebook post. Kundu’s father is a senior officer with the Haryana government.
CASE FINDS ECHO IN PARLIAMENT
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday witnessed heated exchanges between the government and the Congress-led opposition over debating the stalking in Chandigarh by the son of the Haryana BJP president, leading to its adjournment for the day.
The Congress members trooped into the well of the House, raising anti-government slogans. Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma said Chandigarh being a Union Territory was directly administered by the home minister, who should come to the House and give a statement. Congress member Kumari Selja said the government was protecting the accused in the case and trying to push matter under the carpet.
The incident of stalking happened on the night of August 4-5. The Chandigarh Police came under widespread criticism for allegedly favouring the accused, who stalked and intimidated Varnika, 29, the daughter of Haryana additional chief secretary VS Kundu.
In her complaint to the police and later her Facebook post, Varnika said that an attempt to kidnap was made though she did not make the allegation in her statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC. The police registered a case under Section 354 D (stalking a woman) of the IPC and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act (driving by a drunk person) on Saturday. They added Section 341 (wrongful restraint), IPC, based on Varnika’s statement hours later.
Video below | Varnika’s interview with HT two days after the incident: ‘It has happened to every woman in Chandigarh’