Chandigarh stalking case all set to give a major political headache to Khattar
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar has just given himself sleepless nights and the political headache he has ensured is not going to die down easy either. And this is all thanks to the comments Khattar made regarding Harayana BJP chief Subhash Barala's son. Subhash Barala's son Vikas, and a friend of his, was arrested in Chandigrah for stalking a girl.
Khattar's statement that Barala cannot be punished for the deed of his son Vikas and his friend Ashish Kumar has not gone down well.
For Khattar, it is not only the opposition who have started raising their voices against him. Voices of discontent have started coming from within his own party even as the civil society plans to continue with its protests.
“The need of the hour was to go in for a reconciliation instead of conflict. Khattar should have condemned the episode and qualified it by saying that the law should take its own course in the matter. In fact, he should even have got Barala to come out denouncing his son's deed along with the promise that the law should not spare the guilty in the case. Instead Barala remains incommunicado while his associates are coming out with absurd statements,” points out a senior media person who has been covering Haryana for the last two decades.
Demands to quit
It is the Kurukshetra MP Rajkumar Saini who has once again started shooting off his mouth creating trouble for the Khattar regime. He reportedly said on Sunday that Barala should quit on moral grounds as the episode has brought a bad name to the party working for women empowerment at the Centre and in different states.
Saying that drunk driving and stalking are serious offences, Saini said that Barala has no right to be in office if he cannot even sensitise his own family on women safety.
There are also reports of some local-level BJP functionaries who are opposed to Barala and have burnt his effigy in Panchkula.
This entire episode, and the fall-out, coming just after BJP's national president Amit Shah's visit to the state is acting as a big dampener for the party. While the BJP is trying to make inroads into the Jat heartland, the son of one of the senior most Jat leaders gets arrested for the crime.
The Congress top guns have trained their guns on the BJP leadership in Haryana on the issue. The main matter being discussed among the people is – will the feuding Congress leaders in Haryana for once come together to take up the issue unitedly and exploit the political opportunity to take on the BJP on its tall claims on women safety in the state?
Separately, the leaders have gone ahead with their attacks on the Khattar regime. Even the party vice president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders like Manish Tewari have come out attacking the Khattar regime.
Condemn attempt to kidnap&outrage modesty of young lady in Chdgrh.BJPGovt mst punish the guilty;not colludeW/culprits&mindset they represent— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) August 6, 2017
BJP functionaries have been saying that the victim who was molested in CHANDIGARH and an alleged attempt was made... https://t.co/f1mDfi070j— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 7, 2017
HUMUNGOUS COVER UP. If what CHANDIGARH Police is saying is true it is a sad commentary on the state of affairs... https://t.co/lzbzldyS1f— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 7, 2017
If Chandigarh Adm-says all nine CCTV cameras were dysfunctional someone should investigate the last traffic challans if sent based on CCTV??— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 7, 2017
While the issue of alleged attempts by the Chandigarh Police to dilute the charges against the accused were duly raised by Tewari, the new revelation of the missing footage of five of the seven CCTV cameras in the area where the crime took place has provided more fodder to the opposition. This point was duly raised by senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Tewari has expressed hope that the Punjab and Haryana High Court would take suo motu cognizance of the matter since the incident occurred in sectors where all VVIPs, including judges and senior bureaucrats, reside.
Surjewala has reportedly questioned how five of the seven CCTV cameras on the route where stalking took place have suddenly gone non-functional. He has pointed that this amounts to losing important evidence.
The other opposition group Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) too has upped the ante against Khattar regime calling for Barala's resignation on the issue.
Anger seeps out
The cadres and workers these two opposition parties have been organising local-level protests across the state. The civil society too has come out against the stalking episode.
“The good thing is that it was reported. The mindset that is prevalent across Haryana and the country is that with prevailing masculinity and patriarchy this is a 'done thing'. I am a senior citizen now but forty years back even I was stalked. You talk to 50 people and you shouldn't be surprised if all of them admit to having been stalked at one point of time or the other. Earlier it was called eve teasing, now it is stalking. It is seen as a small thing. But the positive thing here is that if small things are reported and acted upon, the bigger things will not take place,” noted academician Richa Tanwar from Kurukshetra said while deconstructing the episode.
“People will say various things like it is a routine matter and politicians will keep coming out with statements suitable to them. The need here is to have a sensitive set of law makers and the Police that is sensitised to deal with such cases. The common people do not have a proper understanding of such issues,” she further added.
Sudesh Kumari, an activist with the Jan Sangharsh Manch (Haryana) pointed out that if the BJP leadership is not trying to protect the guilty, then Barala should come out disowning his son.
“The gender inequality remains in the DNA of the political class in Haryana where feudal and patriarchal mindsets dominate,” she said while pointing that since it is Chandigarh Police handling the case and the victim is from the elite class the matter has gained prominence.
“Had it happened to a common man in Haryana, the case would have been hushed by now. It is a common practice here to make the victim the culprit in such cases,” she said.
The enraged commoners of Chandigarh want the various political forces to come together and exert pressure to ensure that the guilty are not let off easily.
“The 'Swacchta Abhiyan' should not only be limited to cleaning litter and filth on the streets. It should also translate into cleaning the rotten mindsets. It is these so called 'small incidents' that eventually culminate in cases like Nirbhaya and the latest one like Gudiya in Himachal Pradesh. The opposition should not act like brothers in crime and should instead ensure justice for the victim,” said a resident of Sector 44 in Chandigarh.
Since the episode took place on a weekend and with Monday being a holiday, more public outrage is expected in the days to come in the region.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen