Sunday, October 22, 2017
NEW DELHI: The troll campaign of the Webakoofs has started yet again. This time against the woman who went through a terrifying experience while heading home from work in Chandigarh. As two men in a car, one of them the son of the Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, chased her, blocked her repeatedly, tried to drag out of her at a traffic crossing and did all that was possible to abduct her.
What saved her is the fact that while she was trembling with fear, hands shaking, and back spasming, she did not lose her presence of mind. She did not give in and kept finding her way out every single time. And of course the fact that she was the Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Virender Kundu’s daughter because of which probably the Chandigarh police responded faster than they normally would. Kundu has been like a rock beside his girl, taking on the ruling party on the issue of justice.
The woman, working as a DJ, and her father have decided to fight it out. As she has said, she dreads to think what might have happened had she been less well connected. And even so she did wonder through the chase whether she would be able to make it home that night. Her father took up the cudgels as well and made it clear that the family would fight for justice as long as it possibly could.
Since then of course, the smear campaign has started. And the BJP and its army on the social media is faking news, photographs, to build a case against the woman based---predictably---on sullying her character. Lies are being repeated with impunity, with the BJP Chief Minister wasting no time in coming out in support of his party chief whose son chased a young woman through the dark roads of Chandigarh. Not a word in apology, not a word of assurance to the family that action will be taken, son or no son---just a dirty campaign, and immediate action to ensure that the two men were released as soon as they were arrested.
Pratik Sinha of AltNews has in fact put together the fake news being created around this incident, in an attempt to character assassinate the victim, as if somehow if it can be established that a woman drinks, or wears revealing clothes, or for that matter even knows the assailant---a complete lie of course in this case----he is somehow justified in chasing her, with the intention to abduct and possibly rape.
As Sinha has written: BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC, Prashant Patel, a Supreme Court lawyer, Rupa Murthy, an author of fake news site postcard.news, and Vivek Bansal, a BJP social media volunteer, are among many who circulated an old picture of the victim who was allegedly stalked by Haryana BJP Chief Subhash Barala’s son Vikas Barala. They are circulating this picture with the narrative that the victim is with the accused Vikas Barala in the said picture. Prashant Patel tweeted, “So called victim daughter of IAS from Chandigarh with Vikas Barala. This story is as true as like Jasleen Kaur of Delhi & of Rohtak Sisters.” Many others picked up that image and made it viral on social media with the aforesaid narrative narrative.
A Facebook page called ‘The Illogical Indian‘ put out the same picture with the title, “Chaste Girl with her Stalkers! #MediaHitJob?“.
A Facebook page called “Narendra Modi – a hope for better India” even put out a comparison by juxtaposing the accused’s picture with the image of the victim and her friends. Yet, something which was screamingly obvious to the naked eye, that the accused Vikas Barala is not in the picture did not seem obvious to these folks.
And as Sinha has reported this was an old photograph, and the accused “Vikas Barala is not present in the image. An old unrelated image was yet again used for victim shaming and spreading a false narrative. Ironcially, it was a Supreme Court lawyer who started the false narrative. Prashant Patel has been caught spreading fake images multiple times in the past.
However, the victim shaming wasn’t limited to this image. Kuldeep Barala, who has now deleted the following post, went on to claim that the victim herself was inebriated while she was driving according to his ‘sources’. To prove his point, Kuldeep Barala downloaded a picture from the victim’s Facebook album and used it as an attachment. The picture showed the victim sitting on a table with a few glasses of seemingly alcoholic drinks. Alt News spoke to the victim and she confirmed that the image is a few months old.”
The strategy adopted here is similar to how a fake video was circulated by the Indian right-wing claiming that Gurmehar Kaur was drinking and having a merry time in a moving car. The idea is to character assassinate a woman by showing that she’s having a merry time as significant sections of the Indian society still look down upon women who drink. The idea is to portray that the woman lacks character and ‘deserves’ what she got.
Haryana BJP Vice President Ramveer Bhatti’s statement is also along the same lines, the narrative being, why did the victim stay out so late in the night.
And this mentality seems to pervade through the rank and file of the party in Haryana. The chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, in his election campaign had said:
The morality that sickens, as assault and rape is justified if the woman is out late, if she is wearing clothes that the Khattar types do not approve of, if she has had a couple of drinks, if she has man friends, Women organisations have been fightting this mentality, of course not very successfully as many of their members hold the same views. But now with the BJP in power the oppressive shackling of women has acquired new legitimacy, and is being stated brazenly not just by the male leaders of the party but also the female members who do not hesitate to attack the victims, instead of insisting on action against the assailants.