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While the country was busy celebrating ‘Raksha’ Bandhan, Varnika Kundu was being blamed for being stalked down the roads of Chandigarh in the middle of the night.
Varnika Kundu was harassed and stalked around the roads of Chandigarh on the night of 4th August by two men, one of whom was allegedly Vikas Barala, son of Subhash Barala, chief of Haryana BJP. The incident came to light when Varnika put out a post on facebook describing her ordeal, which later went viral.
She said that she was chased by the two men in a white SUV and they tried to scare her by swerving in and away from her direction on the road. However, due to the prompt action of Chandigarh police, she was saved and the two guys caught by.
Varnika also talked to the Quint about the mentioned incident and made it clear that she refuses to back down and cower. Quoting from the same, she said, “I am living my life as I would. If I let this fear stop me, that would be the exact opposite of what I want to do…The system is (in existence) to protect us. I have faith that they (the accused) will be given the justice they deserve (sic), and I will get the justice that I deserve. They will suffer what they need to suffer to make them understand this is not a game they can play.”
However, all were not as supportive of her as they are now. She went through the usual victim shaming, beginning with a BJP spokesperson digging up Varnika’s private pictures and posting one showing her with two men who were said to be the two accused men. Later, it was clarified that the men were, in fact, her friends and the picture was an old one.
What baffles me about this is that the said person took the liberty to go through her profile and dig out a picture which she could use as a tool to make Varnika’s narrative seem fake. And of course, it worked as fuel to the fire and the trolls actively started denying her the right to ‘complain’ about being stalked, never mind the fact that stalking is stalking even if one is familiar with the stalker.
All this done, the chain of events could obviously not progress further without the usual comment shaming Varnika for being out late, “The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night. Why was she driving so late in the night? The atmosphere is not right. We need to take care of ourselves,” said BJP state vice president Ramveer Bhatti, talking to CNN-News18.
In response to this comment, women have come out in support of Varnika by posting pictures of themselves on a night-out with the tag #AintNoCinderella. Varnika’s father, V S Kundu has come out in solid support of his daughter and is “ready to fight the character assassination” of his daughter, which seems bound to happen like all such cases. The reason behind this bull-shit, I fail to comprehend.
If all the victim shaming wasn’t enough, there have been reports of the big guys trying to hush up the case to save their progeny. Subhash Barala, the father of the accused Vikas Barala, has stated that Varnika “is like my daughter” and assured the media that the legal proceedings will go unaffected. How that goes about, only time will tell. The only thing we know is that both the men were taken in for bailable offences only and were released, the required CCTV footages were also (un)surprisingly hard to find.
While we enjoyed the festivities of Raksha Bandhan, aware of the patriarchal undertones of the festival, is it not a strong sense of irony that this happened so close to the day? Or has it always been this way and we’re only just waking up to the realities? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Top image is a screen grab from Varnika’s interview with The Quint, linked to above.