Belated Happy Raksha Bandhan
We’ve known for a while now that this is no country for women. Especially in North India. First, you’re lucky if your parents actually allow you to live once they discover that you are a girl. And if you survive female infanticide, there are other horrors to follow.
Last week, women’s plaits were being mysteriously lopped off by ‘ghosts’ and ‘shape-shifting cats’ in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. Plait-cutters aside, on Saturday morning, a video surfaced of a crowd in the driveway of what turned out to be a gated condominium in Gurugram, Essel Towers. A man was shouting in English, “You are supporting prostitution in the society!” Because why else would a single woman want a male visitor to come to her home? Aap hi bataiyen!
On Friday night, around the same time that unmarried women tenants were being accused of being prostitutes, Varnika Kundu was driving home at midnight in Chandigarh. Her car was chased for over 7km by Vikas Barala and his friend, Ashish Kumar. Both were drunk. They tried to block the car’s path with their SUV. Kundu managed to drive away and filed an FIR.
But then it gets interesting. Barala is the son of Subhash Barala, the Haryana BJP president. Both Vikas and Ashish are law students, which is, if you’re the sort you gets ironies, is quite ironic.
What followed in the Kundu case explains why the lot of urban women is not going to change in this country in a hurry. The police dropped the charge of abduction. The charges were reduced to ‘stalking’ and ‘wrongful restraint’ — two crimes that are bailable. Yes, Barala and his friend were released on bail and an ‘investigation’ is now on. I would request you to not hold your breath.
It’s bad enough that the law seems to think that stalkers and men who chase women in cars to accost them on empty streets should be let off with a rap on their knuckles. What’s worse is the Barala family — and some members of the BJP — defending Barala’s behaviour. Because what else could Kundu be but a woman of ‘loose morals’ — an unmarried woman who was out on her own at night. That was so obvious. On Monday, Chandigarh BJP vice president Ramveer Bhatti stated, “Such cases tend to occur… and the probability is higher for girls being stalked if they are out at odd hours.” And parents must ensure “girls should not be seen roaming on roads after a certain hour in the evening”. Yes, locking up men out to harass and worse is such an impractical thing to do. ‘At odd hours’.
Subhash Barala’s nephew, Kuldeep Barala, posted an image on social media of Kundu standing between two male friends from 2012. Why? Because any woman with male friends is a woman who deserves unwanted sexual attention from men. Kuldeep’s lack of understanding of women’s safety or free will is not perplexing. After all, he himself has abduction charges against him in an ongoing case. Baralas of a feather flock together.
Subhash Barala, after maintaining a studied silence, said on Tuesday that Kundu is “like my daughter”. God help us from people ‘like our fathers’ then. The next evening, BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, who happens to be a woman, posted the same picture of Kundu with her two friends on Twitter and Facebook. After a backlash on Twitter, Shaina claimed her Twitter account had been hacked.
The hacker, it seems, had kindly deleted the ‘mischievous’ tweet before handing the account back to her. Shaina seemed to have forgotten that the same picture had been posted on her Facebook account as well. Perhaps, the hacker is the same person chopping off people’s braids. Belated Happy Raksha Bandhan!
No big brother this