Don’t you think what happened with Varnika Kundu has ruined the reputation of Chandigarh as a safe city?
It is the efficiency of Chandigarh Police that we caught the culprit merely in six minutes. And we are not taking the credit for this thing. It has been appreciated by the victim and her family members. I want to be clear on this point, crime can happen anywhere. Someone would be right to blame us had we failed to arrest the culprits. Our PCR personnel, who were the first to respond, did an excellent job and nabbed the suspects in minimum time. Nightlife in Chandigarh is very secure for everyone, including women.
Your police force has been accused of initially going soft on the culprits under political pressure. First you slapped bailable charges ignoring the contents of the complaint. Only after the public mounted pressure that the police slapped harsher charges. Aren’t these double standards?
Not at all. People who are claiming that Chandigarh Police did not apply suitable sections against the accused, are those who do not understand the law. From the beginning, we adopted a tough stand against both the accused. When one of the accused refused to accept the notice to join the investigation, we mounted pressure and the accused appeared at the police station within hours. We have built a watertight case against them and will ensure conviction in the court. I reject the claims of political pressure on Chandigarh Police.
Do you think this case has left room for introspection by Chandigarh Police?
Indeed. While we are satisfied with the performance of our policemen deployed at PCR Gypsies during night hours, we want to publicise all our other helpline numbers, especially related to women safety so that women can use these numbers in crises. One more thing which came to my mind was that it is important to have women police personnel in PCR vehicles at night. Our two PCR vehicles intercepted the culprits following the distress call of the victim but there was not a single woman cop in any of the police vehicle. We will increase the deployment of women cops in PCR Gypsies at night.
Is there any role of neighbouring police authorities of Panchkula and Mohali in such cases? Are you taking up this case with your counterparts?
Cases related to harassment of women travelling on roads, especially during night hours, can escalate to any extent. Criminals do not confine themselves to any jurisdiction. In this case too, there were possibilities that the victim could be harmed in Panchkula, if my police personnel had not caught them at the last point of Chandigarh, the Housing Board light point. We decided to take up such cases for discussion in interstate crime meeting with our counterparts of neighbouring states.
Any further step for the safety of women in Chandigarh?
The victim was aware of the 100 number and she used her knowledge in a timely manner. We are shortly going to start a publicity campaign for other helpline numbers and a woman safety mobile app ‘Rakshak’ in Chandigarh.