Chandigarh stalking: Police find key CCTV proof against Haryana BJP chief’s son
The Opposition kept up the demand for Subhash Barala’s resignation but BJP said there was no immediate plan to ask him to quit. The BJP, for now, is sticking to the line that the father should not be held accountable for son’s conduct.
The Chandigarh Police late on Monday night said it retrieved CCTV footage that supported a disc jockey’s charge that the Haryana BJP chief’s son and his friend followed her car in a midnight chase.
The police had faced criticism earlier in the day after they said the CCTVs along the route were not working.
“The Chandigarh Police have retrieved footage of five CCTV cameras on the route, capturing the chase of victim’s vehicle by the alleged vehicle of the accused,” a Chandigarh Police officer told HT. The footage showed the victim’s car being followed by a white SUV, he said.
The footage is vital to proving the charge that BJP leader Subhash Barala’s son Vikas and his friend Ashish Kumar followed 29-year-old Varnika Kundu as she was driving home on August 4 at around 12.30am.
Battling accusations of hushing up the stalking incident that has sparked nationwide anger and raised questions over women safety, the Centre asked for a report from the Chandigarh administration.
“Even before you have registered a case under correct sections, the CCTV footage has gone. Does it not show that the union government is giving diktats to protect the Haryana BJP president and his son?” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said earlier in the day.
The Chandigarh Police, which reports to the Centre, was protecting Subhash Barala and Vikas, he said.
In her complaint to police, Kundu said the two men followed her in their SUV, pulled up the vehicle close to her car several times and even tried to block her way.
“All CCTV cameras have been found non-functional. There were five cameras on the stretch, but no footage is available as their annual maintenance contract was over,” SSP (traffic and security) Shashank Anand had told mediapersons earlier in the day.
Police also failed to explain why it had not brought charges of attempt to abduction against Vikas and Kumar.
“We are investigating the matter with open mind” senior superintendent of police Eish Singhal said at a hurriedly called press conference. He walked out when pressed for answers.
There was more pressure on police, as the national commission for women called for a fair probe and regular updates.
“In the letter (to police) we have asked them to conduct a quick, immediate, fair and free investigation in the case and let us know what is happening in every stage,” NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam told PTI.
While the Opposition kept up the demand for Barala’s resignation sources in the BJP said there was no immediate plan to ask him to quit. The party, for now, is sticking to the line that the father should not be held accountable for son’s conduct.
Parliament resumes on Tuesday after a three-day break and the Opposition’s reaction could determine Barala’s fate, sources said.
But the party was forced into damage control when its Chandigarh vice-president Ramveer Bhatti said “girls and women should not go out alone at midnight”.
“I think this is a very unfortunate statement, which reflects the mindset of many men in this country. I think that Bhatti should have exercised restraint and not made this comment,” after the city MP and BJP leader Kirron Kher said.