Chandigarh stalking: Behind all the flak, Chandigarh Police and its 6 heroes

By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh, Aug 13 (IANS) The Chandigarh Police may have been targeted by many in the media and on social media over their mishandling of the Varnika Kundu stalking case, involving a powerful BJP leader’s son, but the police force certainly has heroes within its ranks who stood up to the occasion to get the name-dropping brats behind bars in the first instance.

Topping the list are the Chandigarh Police’s men of action — Head Constable Satish Kumar and Home Guards volunteer Baisakhi Ram — who not only acted promptly in reaching the spot of the hapless and harassed Varnika on the intervening night of August 4 and 5 but also showed courage and presence of mind to nab the accused Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish Kumar.

Kumar, who was patrolling the area in the vicinity of the border of Chandigarh and the adjoining town of Panchkula (in Haryana) past midnight in his Police Control Room (PCR) vehicle, responded to an alert from the control room about a woman in distress. With a traffic red light coming to their aid, Kumar approached the SUV of the accused, who were drunk, and took out the keys of the vehicle, leaving little scope for them to flee.

Police sources say that the accused and his friend tried to throw their weight around with the PCR personnel (Kumar and Baisakhi Ram).

“Tum jaante ho hum kaun hain (Do you know who we are),” Ashish reportedly asked Baisakhi Ram in a threatening tone.

The accused, who were smelling of alcohol, questioned the policemen on why they were being detained.

“Just a couple of hundred metres away (from the traffic light point at Housing Board crossing) the accused would have entered Haryana (Panchkula) and it would have been extremely difficult to nab them as the BJP government is in power there. As in many other cases, the VIP would have blamed the incident on some driver and not the son,” a retired senior officer of the Chandigarh Police, who requested anonymity, told IANS here.

But Kumar and Ram paid no heed to the accused and informed the control room. Another police vehicle, with Assistant Sub-Inspector Ishwar Singh and Constable Devinder, who had started chasing the Tata Safari Storm SUV of the accused, also reached the spot and took the accused into custody. They were brought to the Sector 26 police station where they were later booked on charges of stalking (Section 354-D) and drunken driving (Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act).

Even before these policemen on the ground came into action, the control room team of Constable Ajay and Sub-Inspector Vijay Kumar were the first to react promptly to Varnika’s distress call on the 100 police helpline number. They alerted the PCR vehicles and the movement of the victim’s car and the SUV of the accused.

“We are planning to reward the six personnel for their swift action,” Chandigarh’s Director General of Police (DGP), Tajinder Luthra, said.

But despite the flak that the Chandigarh Police got for five days after it softened the case against the accused by not applying stiffer sections, the Facebook post of Varnika herself said a lot about the police help.

“I’d like to take a moment to commend and thank Chandigarh Police for unparalleled efficiency and attention to a distress call from me. They almost restore my faith in the system,” she wrote within hours of going through the trauma.

“I used this time to also call the cops at 100, and explain to them the situation and my exact location and where I was headed. The cop who answered my call, intuitively sensed the urgency in my voice, and promised me that help would be along very soon.”

“I need to mention and thank Chd Police again because had it not been for their timely response, I might not be writing this status today. I’m also lucky, because I’m not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere,” she added.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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