Haryana stalking: Khattar government under fire for 'shielding' BJP leader's son

August 08 2017

 The police handling of the incident of stalking and alleged attempt to kidnap the daughter of a bureaucrat snowballed into a major controversy with the opposition on Monday accusing the BJP government inHaryana of shielding the state unit chief and his son, an accused, while the police said it has an open mind and could add further charges in the case.The government headed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar continued todraw flak for the pressure that was allegedly brought on the ChandigarhPolice to dilute the case against Vikas Barala, son of Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish Kumar, who allegedly stalked and intimidated a 29-year-old woman last week.Under criticism from various quarters over its flip-flop in the incidentinvolving the daughter of a senior Haryana IAS officer, Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Eish Singhal said: "We are investigating the case with an open mind. If any section has to be addedat a later stage, we will do it."Singhal tried to evade direct questions on the role of the police in trying to shield the main accused, Vikas Barala and his friend Ashish Kumar.However, he did not answer questions on reports that video footage of seven of the nine CCTVs had gone missing.Defending the police action in this matter, Singhal said that the policeofficials immediately booked the accused and arrested them though they were later released on bail.Chandigarh Police on Saturday booked and arrested Vikas Barala and his friend, both of whom were drunk, on charges of stalking the young woman after chasing her car in their SUV. The victim alleged that the youth tried to intimidate her and abduct her.Earlier, police said there was no CCTV footage of the incident.Deputy Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar told the media that they tried to get CCTV footage from nine CCTV cameras along the route, from Sector 7 to Housing Board traffic light point, but all were found to be "non-functional".The route along which the two accused stalked Varnika Kundu, daughter ofHaryana Additional Chief Secretary V.S. Kundu, passes through some prominent and busy parts of Chandigarh including the Sector 26 Police Lines.The victim and her family have said they will fight the case to its "logical conclusion".The Congress on Monday accused the Union Home Ministry of trying to protect the son of Haryana BJP President Subhash Barala.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Chandigarh Police, which comes under the Home Ministry, diluted the charges and booked Vikas Barala under bailable offences.Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah should say why the BJP leader's son was being protected and sought the Haryana BJP President's resignation.Accusing the BJP of adopting double standards, he said a few years ago aHaryana Congress leader was made to resign after an incident involving his son."When a similar incident had happened involving the son of a senior minister in the Haryana government a few years ago the BJP had demanded the minister's resignation holding him accountable."Chandigarh's Deputy Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar said Barala and a friend were booked under Section 354D (stalking a woman) of the Indian Penal Code. Section 341 (wrongful restraint) was later added in the FIR.

Haryana stalking: Khattar government under fire for 'shielding' BJP leader's son

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