Vikas Barala, the son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, was charged today with attempt to kidnap, days after he allegedly stalked a woman and followed her car on the streets of Chandigarh.
The 23-year-old law student was earlier charged with stalking and drink driving. A tougher charge was added today when he arrived at a police station for questioning, nearly three hours after his deadline.
On the night of August 4, when Varnika Kundu’s ,the 29-year-old DJ who was stalked and followed in Chandigarh on Friday,police complaint was registered, the provisions invoked against the accused were Sections 354D (stalking), 341 (wrongful restraint), 365 (kidnapping with intent to confine), 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life) of the IPC, and section 185 (drunken driving) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
Once both accused were identified, the significant offences were dropped from the FIR,which was limited to stalking (a first offence) and drunken driving,both bailable offences.
“We have decided to press Sections 365 and 511 against both the accused and arrested them. We will produce them before the court tomorrow and demand their police custody,” Chandigarh DGP Tajender Singh Luthra told reporters.
(Section 365 pertains to kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly or wrongfully to confine a person) and Section 511 refers to punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment.)
Well versed with law, the men refused to give blood and urine samples after their arrest on August 5 and it could go against them during the trial, Luthra said.
On Wednesday, the Chandigarh police, finally slapped attempted kidnapping charges on the two men and arrested them. After a daylong drama, the Chandigarh Police re-arrested Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala’s son, Vikas Barala , and his friend, Ashish Kumar, accused of stalking and trying to kidnap Haryana IAS officer V S Kundu’s daughter, Varnika Kundu, on the night of August 4.
Whether this is the belated dawning of wisdom or an attempt to publicly demonstrate that the law is taking its course, the initial decision to drop the more serious offences in the FIR and reduce the entire sequence of events to ‘stalking’ reflects poorly on the Chandigarh police. Either it has a poor understanding of the law or is susceptible to the pressures of power.
The Chandigarh Police, criticized for going soft on them, slapped non-bailable charges against the men five days after they allegedly followed 29-year-old Varnika Kundu’s car in a midnight chase.
The overwhelming fear and apprehension of physical and sexual harm unleashed by the events are conveyed by factual account of the chase. To quote Varnika Kundu’s post, “I was in a full-blown panic attack by now because they would keep trying to corner me and I’d somehow manoeuvre my way out and keep moving. My hands shaking, my back spasming from fear, half in tears, half bewildered, because I didn’t know if I’d make it home tonight.”
The IAS officer, meanwhile, whose daughter was allegedly stalked by a senior BJP leader’s son and his friend, took to social media to seek “maximum punishment” for the accused, adding that he will move court if charges against the duo were “diluted”.
“We will not interfere with the investigation or the prosecution, just as we do not want the accused to influence the investigation in any way. The police and prosecution should be allowed to do their job.
“We will join the investigation whenever required by the police. We will contest in the court if we feel the charges are diluted or inadequately framed,” the bureaucrat said in a Facebook post.
The stalking incident in which his son Vikas Barala was arrested and later released on bail is not the first criminal act of his kin to have become cause of embarrassment for state BJP president Subhash Barala.
On May 7, Vikram Barala, alias Vicky, a grandson of Barala’s elder brother, was booked for kidnapping a minor girl from Badhai Khera village in Fatehabad district, the ancestral village of the state BJP chief.
Last month, another case of causing hurt, wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation was registered against Vikram Barala when he was found taking away a youth in his car’s dickey after thrashing him badly.
Pardeep Kumar, SHO, Tohana Sadar police station, confirmed that a case under Sections 323, 341, 506 and 427 of the IPC was registered against Vicky 20 days back.
However, the police were yet to arrest him, he said.Regarding the alleged kidnapping of a minor girl, the SHO said that the FIR still stood against Vicky’s name.
Ultimately, the law is only as good as the law enforcement machinery makes it. If the investigation is limited to a few offences rather than the sequence of all events that comprise the crime, nothing at a later stage can close that gap. This effectively erases from the records the serious crimes, retaining a bare minimum as a fig leaf to assure the public that the legal process was followed.
It would be very unfortunate if the law demonstrates yet again its inability to steer its course against those in, or proximate to, high office without the pressure of public outcry and consistent media scrutiny.