Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, and another person accused of stalking an IAS officer's daughter were put behind bars today after the Chandigarh police slapped a charge of attempted abduction against them.
Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, and another person accused of stalking an IAS officer’s daughter were put behind bars today after the Chandigarh police slapped a charge of attempted abduction against them. This is the second time, Vikas (23) and his co-accused Ashish Kumar (27) have been arrested in the case which has triggered a massive furore and brought the issue of women’s safety on national centre stage. On a day of fast paced developments, the Chandigarh police grilled the two accused for nearly three hours and then decided to add the non-bailable charge of “attempt of abduction” under section 365 and 511 of the IPC after claiming to have found “new facts and evidences” in the case which has been under constant media glare. Both the accused will be produced before the court tomorrow, DGP, Chandigarh, Tejinder Singh Luthra told mediapersons here.
Varnika Kundu, the gutsy 29-year-old, who was allegedly stalked, expressed satisfaction terming the fresh arrest as a “great development in the case”. “If we continue this movement, cases like these will get a lot rarer,” she asserted. Her father, senior IAS officer Virender Kundu said the arrest was “one small step in the right direction” adding that the accused should be punished appropriately. The re-arrest of the two men, said to be law graduates, came after they appeared before the police in the afternoon following summons issued to them. The police also got the two medically examined at a government hospital here. Last Saturday, the two had been arrested on Varnika’s complaint but were released later on bail as they were booked under bailable sections of the IPC and the Motor Vehicles Act.
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The stalking incident came to light when the woman had called up the police late on Friday night, complaining that two youth were chasing her along a stretch of over five kilometre from Chandigarh right up to a point in the Union Territory, adjoining Haryana’s border. Notably, the woman in her complaint had mentioned that there was an attempt to abduct her by the accused. “To me it was very clear that that these boys intended to abduct me even tried to open the door (of the car),” the victim had said in her complaint. However, the police had not pressed abduction charges at that time. Luthra said that key details had emerged during the probe after which the police decided to add fresh charges.
“We have decided that against both the accused we are going to press two charges, one is attempt of abduction, which will have two IPC sections– 365 and 511. In addition, we have decided to put both accused under arrest,” Luthra told reporters. The maximum punishment for the offence under the charge applied today is upto seven years’ imprisonment. Earlier, amid tight police security, Vikas (23) and Ashish (27) landed at Sector 26 police station for questioning in connection with stalking case. They reached the police station in a white SUV at around 2:30 pm. They were immediately taken inside by the sleuths for grilling. Vikas reached the police station shortly after his father and Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala had addressed a hurriedly called press conference.
A visibly-tense Subhash Barala maintained his son was cooperating with the probe right from the beginning and rubbished opposition charges that the police was acting under political pressure. “They (accused) were earlier called for joining the investigation and they reached the police station. Now, today as soon as I got information about the notice (of summon) being pasted at my Chandigarh residence, I immediately asked Vikas, who was out of station at that time, to join the investigation as police had sought his presence”, Barala said. Barala left the press conference in a huff, claiming that he received a phone call from his son, who was just about to appear before the Chandigarh police.
Earlier in the day, police pasted the summon outside Barala’s house, according to Luthra. The DGP further claimed that both men had earlier refused to give their blood and urine samples for medical examination, saying that this refusal could go against them during course of the investigation and during trial. With the city-police facing allegations of cover-up, the DGP today appeared before the media for the first time since the stalking case began hogging the limelight. The DGP even assured that the 29-year-old alleged stalking victim would get justice. Meanwhile, both Congress and AAP held protests outside the sector 26 police station, condemning the incident.
REPORT TO THE HOME MINISTRY
In a report to the Union home ministry, the Chandigarh Police conveyed that the Section 365/ 511 (Attempt to abduct with intent to wrongful confinement) of the IPC has been slapped against the two accused, a home ministry official said. The report said that after the 29-year-old woman lodged a complaint of alleged stalking by Vikash and Kumar, the police detained them and called a doctor immediately for a medical test. However, the two accused refused to undergo blood or urine test. The doctor later gave a report saying he smelled the breath of the accused which indicated alcohol, the official said. Denial of Vikas and his friend to undergo blood and urine test is likely to be held against them during the trial, the official said.
STALKING ISSUE FINDS MENTION IN PARLIAMENT ALSO
The issue of unfair treatment to women was mentioned in the Rajya Sabha by DMK MP Kanimozhi. She said that 50 percent of the population — the women — were still not being given their due and there were incidents like stalking and honour killings, a reference to the Chandigarh stalking case. She said it was a sorry state of affairs that leaders were questioning the victims of stalking etc, asking why they were out late.