You're wrong, Babul Supriyo: 'Boy Chase Girl' is stalking

An explainer for yet another proud BJP leader on Chandigarh stalking case.

 |   Long-form |   08-08-2017
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Who is Babul Supriyo? He is an actor and playback singer, who rose to fame in the 2000s with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, in which he sang one hit song. He also happens to be a BJP MP from West Bengal's Asansol — and a minister of state, no less, in the Narendra Modi government.

Why should Babul Supriyo make news? For defending Vikas Barala – the son of Haryana BJP’s president, who finds himself entangled in a stalking case. Like his party comrades Shaina NC and Ramveer Bhatti, Supriyo too did his bit to make it abundantly clear that the BJP’s efforts to empower women and make this country a safer place for them are nothing more than hollow gestures.

Just to refresh your memory, on August 5, Varnika Kundu, a disc jockey, was stalked through the streets of Chandigarh by Vikas Barala — the son of Haryana BJP president — and his friend Ashish Kumar. The two men followed Kundu's car, and tried to force her to open the door of her car. She called the police as she was being chased by the two men, and they were arrested on charges of drunk driving and stalking.

Kundu then took to Facebook to share her ordeal.

babul_080817092806.jpgPhoto: Indiatoday.in

Back to August 8, Babul Supriyo began a tweet thread in defence of Vikas Barala, because if you are in the ruling BJP, saving your cadre’s skin takes precedence over women’s safety. His first tweet read: "Guys, think rationally? A guy chases a girl - he's drunk! Deplorable? But why charge him with 'Abduction' etc without investigation?”

It gets worse. He then tweeted: “Why drag his father into it? Just (be)cause a Neta's son's mischief make better headlines? ‘Desh ki Beti ko insaaf chahiye?’ etc etc!  Why?” followed by, “If investigations reveal the guy guilty of non-bailable offences, law exists & it will prevail but taint the men in uniforms prematurely?” then, “why aren’t the same justice seekers raising voices for the youngster hacked to death in Kerala or the 61-year-old woman raped & killed in WB too?” and finally, “Now that I have u guys with your teeth & nails out, I request u 2 visit WB with me to fight against police atrocity and get justice for the old woman? Anyone?”

Let’s first break this down and then proceed to how Babul Supriyo's tweets only got worse.

First: Why charge Vikas Barala with abduction?

Because Kundu, in her complaint to the Chandigarh Police, specifically said that Barala and his friend attempted to kidnap her. “To the SHO, Police Station Sector 26, Chandigarh. Subject — Complaint regarding harassment and attempt to kidnap and outrage the modesty of a girl”, reads the FIR.

Kundu specified in her complaint: “To me, it was very clear that these boys intended to abduct me even tried to open the door. Kindly file an FIR under the appropriate sections of law.”

The Chandigarh Police, however, did not include sections on abduction in the FIR. Instead they merely included the charges that are perfectly bailable — stalking (single instance) and wrongful restraint. They went easy on the two accused and released them on bail. 

Second: Why drag the son’s father into it?

Because the son was the first to drag his father into the controversy. According to Kundu, "BJP leaders from Haryana started coming to the station, sources said. Desperate calls to various senior police officials with ‘Dekh lo (please see)’ requests started forcing many of the officers to either put their phones on silent mode or switch them off… Before the accused duo got bail, many Haryana leaders were there at the police station throughout Saturday."

One wonders why the more powerful non-bailable charges were dropped. One has to also wonder why and how the CCTV footage from the localities where Barala chased Kundu went "missing".

Chandigarh Police, on August 7, said there was no CCTV footage available. DSP Satish Kumar told the media that they tried to get CCTV footage from nine cameras along the route Kundu was chased, from Sector 7 to Housing Board traffic light point in Chandigarh, but the cameras were found to be “non-functional”.

Curious, right? Thankfully the videos did surface in TV media reports and one can see Vikas Barala's white SUV trailing Varnika Kundu's car at high speed.

Third: If probe reveals Barala is guilty, law and order will prevail. Won't it?

If law and order had to prevail, "trivial" things like missing CCTV footages and non-bailable charges being dropped would not happen.

In fact, had law and order prevailed, a man would not be chasing a woman in his car. But that’s beside the point.

Fourth: What about killing fields of Kerala? (Wait, what?)

Why aren’t the “same justice seekers” raising their voices for the youngster hacked to death in Kerala or the 61-year-old woman raped and killed in West Bengal too? Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. Does a minister of state like Supriyo go through every tweet of every "justice seeker" to find out? Maybe not.

But of course, true to Indian culture (which BJP is the flag bearer of), nothing can and will stop Supriyo from indulging in mindless whataboutery.

Hopefully that answers Mr Supriyo’s asinine tweets. Now, moving forward.

Karnika Kohli, a journalist from The Wire, addressing Supriyo’s wonderment about the "abduction charge", tweeted, “what do you think he was planning to do with her? pakdam-pakdai khelna chahta tha bechara?” Supriyo, to no one’s surprise and a general sense of collective exasperation, replied with, “That's your dirty mind going on an overdrive sister! Think rationally, do you really wish to encourage this 'Trial by Media' in our Country?”

“Dirty mind going on an overdrive.”

Yes, folks. This is an elected MP in our country — and a minister in the central government. This is man who is of the opinion that a woman talking about abduction and possible rape has a "dirty mind".

For some reason, Supriyo went on to explain himself, “Like it's not at all that I am supporting such act but we all went to college and know, like Reel, ‘Boy chase Girl' exists in Real life too. Agree?”

Let us, for a second, ignore Supriyo’s ignorance about rape culture and sexual harassment and focus on the crux. Bollywood normalises stalking. It is a known fact. Casual harassment of women, stalking and decidedly creepy behaviour often pass off for romance in Indian films.

An important part of our popular culture repeatedly tells its audience that it is perfectly okay to make women feel unsafe to win them over.

And it has been so for years. Now for Supriyo, the man clearly needs a refresher on what exists and what is acceptable. More importantly, what is not acceptable.

The saving grace (and the bar for saving grace has now been set far too low at this point) is that Supriyo, unlike Shaina NC, did not choose to make a lazy excuse like “my account got hacked”.

In fact, he went one step ahead and tweeted:

That, however, does not change the fact that active BJP members are gladly siding with a man just because his father is “one of their own”.

Supriyo’s statements are not at all out of the ordinary. BJP Lok Sabha MP from Chandigarh, Kirron Kher had similar sentiments about the outrage against Vikas Barala’s father Subhash Barala: “Incident with young girl from Chandigarh is unfortunate & shouldn't happen to anyone. We must also NOT play politics with a woman's dignity.”

Haryana chief minister ML Khattar, too, on August 6 said that Subhash Barala can’t be punished for the actions of his son: “I came to know about this incident. Chandigarh Police has filed the complaint and I believe they will take appropriate action. This matter is not related with Subhash Barala but with an individual. So action would be taken against his son.”

To cut the long story short for Supriyo: the only reason why an alleged stalker and potential abductor’s charges were dropped and he was given bail was because of his father’s clout.

The reason why men like Vikas Barala and other brats of politicians manage to evade law is because they have their family’s — and by extension — a political party’s blessings.

But of course, expecting righteousness from Indian politicians can only result in disappointment.

Writer

Pathikrit Sanyal Pathikrit Sanyal @bucketheadcase

Pop-culture fanatic, meme junkie, potterhead, pun overlord.

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