CHANDIGARH: Over the years my respect for the Chandigarh police has grown and I have admired their proactive role and their quest for discipline and enforcing that rules are followed. But their recent handling of the ‘stalking/molesting/abduction’ case in Chandigarh where they have being doing a somersault is disappointing, especially since it appears they are bowing to political pressure.

Once again, what comes to the fore is how badly women are treated in this country…how typical is the attitude of men towards a woman who is the victim and how anything and everything will be done to shame a woman but nothing will be done to help her or get her justice.

I am surprised at the mishandling of the case by the Chandigarh police but I am not surprised by the behaviour of the senior BJP politicians and their shameless attitude.

The BJP is known to always protect and support criminals…they have never protected women and have done little or nothing to improve conditions for women in their fight for justice. Making this country a safe place for women is not even on the party agenda so far.

The BJP it appears is run by goons and no less. On one hand, the party boasts about its various schemes for women and giving them honour – which is all bull and on the other hand we have a BJP leader whose son commits a crime against a woman and party members who are still doing their best to justify his actions and protect him.

The perpetrators Vikas Barala and his friend Ashish Kumar should never have been granted bail. Our legal system is so warped. The charges filed against him have been watered down. This is absolutely unacceptable. This is when such despicable men must be punished and not allowed to go scot-free. Our punishments must be harsher and stringent. Then only can we hope for change and improvement.

Even worse is the way BJP leaders and members of the accused’s family have resorted to victim shaming on social media. Ramveer Bhatti, who is the vice president of the BJP in Haryana, blamed the young woman for ‘staying out so late in the night’. This just reflects the mind-set of such men and their backward thinking. Are we still living in a feudalistic society in this day and age?

We can only applaud Varnika Kundu for her presence of mind and staying calm in such a situation where she was alone and being accosted by the lowest form of humans in a night full of terror and fear. What Varnika describes in that chase and the fear that she felt is what women in all parts of India go through battling against the possibility of assault or being victimised at any given time.

There is no safe-city in India anymore. Even worse is how many newspapers and TV channels have not covered the whole incident in the fear of displeasing the present political party and the BJP Haryana Chief Subhash Barala and his despicable son Vikas Barala.

It has even been suggested that the perpetrators should be excused as they were under the influence of alcohol… I think that is even worse and hiding behind such a ludicrous statement is condemnable. Varnika’s father has given a statement that he is unsure of justice as he has literally taken the bull by the horns. Being the additional chief secretary with the BJP government in Haryana, he has naturally gone full throttle into the system. He makes it clear that while the family has taken a decision to bring these men to book, with no prejudice towards their families and relatives: “We know it's not going to be an easy struggle. However, I know that the trauma and hurt my daughter has undergone cannot be undone. If we do not persist in trying to bring the guilty to justice, more and more daughters will suffer this hurt. Maybe some may not be as lucky as she. Someone has to stand up. We are standing. So long as we can."

The two men were arrested finally by the police, after prevarications that are now a matter of record. And released almost immediately on bail.

It is a sad commentary on the times that a senior bureaucrat is not assured of his family’s safety just because they have decided to pursue the case involving the BJP President of Haryana who has already used his clout to ensure immediate release of his son and his friend. The Chandigarh police were pretty efficient and helpful at the beginning but if they are bowing down to political pressure now is sad and shameful.

Varnika is alive thanks to her courage and presence of mind, but the trauma the brave lady is undergoing is unimaginable. We must all support Varnika in this journey to punish the goons. The law must give her justice. We all know most such cases of harassment go unpunished and even unreported. Most people would not want or dare to take on goons from influential families.

Imagine what would be fate of a lady who had no resources or came from a humble background – the daughter of a common man? How would she take on the system that is pro men and that tilts towards political clout? Victims live under the fear of harassment and witch-hunting, threats and even physical harm and therefore are afraid to come forth and fight their battles. It is time victims stood up as is the case here with Varnika.

The fight must continue for security of women…for their safety…for their rights to live as they please and not as male-chauvinistic men think they should. This male dominated society has issues with women working late, with them being out at night, with them partying… Why? This mind-set is why our country will never prosper or move forward positively. At one hand our PM speaks of women upliftment and equality, on the other are the same party members who want to squash women under their thumbs.

Women like Varnika and their families who stand up against such men need to be applauded and also be given all the support possible. Varnika’s father has said, “I will not back out or stand down, irrespective of hardships or pressure. Our target is to ensure the guilty are brought to book. They are adult men, students of law, who are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, and hence must be appropriately punished.”