WATCH | They wanted to get in or get me out, says Varnika, the woman stalked by BJP leader’s son
“I have been told by friends that people are trying to say things about me; make it out like I am wrong. For instance, if you put up a picture of me with a guy online, is it suddenly going to make it okay for these guys to try and kidnap me?”Updated: Aug 07, 2017, 19:13 IST
After a night of horror, and a day of pulls and pressures, Varnika Kundu, 29, the victim of stalking by the Haryana BJP chief’s son in Chandigarh, sat down with HT on Sunday and shared what she felt about the incident, what it means to her and women at large, and how she can’t quite see a point in some men finding it amusing. Excerpts:
Q. Varnika, you say you do not want to hide your face and identity even at the risk of being trolled. Why is that?
Because, see, I put the post on Facebook; everyone at least on my list knows it was me. And the post has gone unprecedentedly viral now. Most importantly, I have done nothing wrong. Something wrong was done to me. Why should I be embarrassed? Why do I have to hide my face?
Q. What exactly happened that night, if you can summarise?
It started in Sector 7 and I noticed them drive next to me. They swerved and made me feel they would hit my car. A couple of times they got off and approached my car. It went on for 5-6 km before the cops, reacting to may call, reached at Housing Board Chowk.
Q. Have you faced any such harassment before to such a level? Do you know anyone in Chandigarh who has?
It has happened to every woman in Chandigarh. It happens everywhere. It happens even during the day. Sometimes what happens is that such guys follow you for a few minutes, then get bored and move on.
Q. Online, you have got praises and also faced trolling? How do you react to that?
I have not seen all of it. I have been told by friends that people are trying to say things about me; make it out like I am wrong. For instance, if you put up a picture of me with a guy online, is it suddenly going to make it okay for these guys to try and kidnap me?
Q. How do you plan now to protect your right to move around freely, even at night?
I won’t want to be more careful, but I also won’t want to put my parents through what they just went through. More than me, they will be sitting at home and worrying where I am from now on. That being said, I am not going to stop living my life the way I want to just because of some goons. If I have to go out at night, I will still go out at night. That is the whole point of feminism. If they think they can scare me — that’s what they wanted that night — then what is the whole point? Men should not be able to count on my getting scared so they can do whatever they want with me.
Q. But, will your life and freedoms change now?
A. Why should I stop living my life the way I want to? And why am I being asked by some people as to what I was doing out late at night? My parents know where I am. And, people who ask me this question should ask themselves: was I harassing someone? No. Those men were.
Q. The section of law dealing with kidnap as a non-bailable offence has not been invoked in the FIR, which is why they got bail from the police under other sections. Do you want to get that section invoked? And did you not mention kidnap in the statement to the magistrate?
They wanted to kidnap me. That is the only logical conclusion I can draw. They wanted to open the car door. They wanted to get in, or get me out and take me away. It’s not like they wanted to have a conversation! I have stated the facts and the sequence of events in my statements. I believe police will do their job.
Q. Your FB post talks about women needing self-defence and even some equipment, weapons, to guard against such instance. Do you see that as the only solution?
It’s not about weapons. Every woman needs to understand that we are responsible for our own safety. Why should we delegate our safety to men? If we give them that power to keep us safe, then they also have the power to not keep us safe. If those guys hadn’t thought that I would get scared, they probably won’t have tried this. Changing these men is not easy. What we (women) can change is how we think and how we deal with our lives.
Q. In your Facebook post, you have addressed fellow women. Being an independent working woman, do you have something to say to parents too?
My parents taught me I don’t need a man with me to be safe. Even now, they won’t be calling me every two minutes. As for self-defence, I am trained in martial arts, and that gives me confidence. Parents need to stop keeping daughters as decoration pieces until they are married off; and then they think it’s probably ok now for her to get a job. You need to give your daughters all the right that a man has, before you want anyone else to do that.
Q. What would you tell these men if you could?
I don’t know if I can have a logical conversation with them, or any such men. For me, what they did is quite unthinkable. What did they get out of harassing me? What is the ‘fun’ in it?