On the night of August 4, as he waited with his daughter at the Sector 26 police station in Chandigarh for an FIR to be registered, IAS officer Virender Kundu reportedly received several calls from Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala. “I don’t have his number on my phone, but I knew it was him through Truecaller (app). I did not take any of his calls because I knew what he was going to say,” Kundu told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
Kundu’s daughter, Varnika, was allegedly chased by Barala’s son, Vikas, and his friend, Ashish Kumar, for over seven kilometres on Friday night. Police said on Monday that CCTV footage shows the “victim being chased by the accused”. Varnika was rescued by a PCR van that intercepted the two men in their car. After she drove back to her Panchkula home, she and her father went to the police station to file their complaint. Varnika has accused them of attempting to abduct her.
Kundu said Krishan Dhull, a BJP spokesperson who he knows, first called him to say the two accused were “part of the clan”, a reference to their caste association, then revealed that one of them was Barala’s son. Dhull even arrived at the police station, trying to seek a compromise on behalf of the two men, he said.
“When the two men realised that they had landed themselves in serious trouble, and that we were intent on registering a case, they said, ‘behen galti ho gayi (we made a mistake)’,” recalled Kundu. The 1986 Haryana-cadre IAS officer said he and his daughter were determined to pursue the case, and would accept no compromise or apology, although this could change their lives completely.
There can be “no apology for a crime”, he said. “In any case, apology kuch hai hi nahi ab (there is no apology now)… Because the crime is no longer against Varnika or me… the crime is against the state now. Once he has committed the crime, it is the state that will decide,” said Kundu. Responding to Barala’s statement on Tuesday that Varnika was “like” his daughter, Kundu said, “Subhash Barala has a daughter… is it okay that his daughter is chased by two goons at night?”
Kundu said the only “positive intervention” he had made to strengthen his daughter’s case was to call UT Home Secretary Anurag Aggarwal and the SSP Traffic, a Haryana-cadre police officer posted in Chandigarh, on Saturday morning, to ask them to secure the CCTV footage from the route through which the men chased his daughter.
“I told the Home Secretary what had happened, (that) the CCTV may be sabotaged… this is my apprehension, we need to secure it. He said ‘we will take care, Chandigarh mein aisa nahin hota (such things don’t happen in Chandigarh),’ but what I feared happened,” he said, referring to the administration’s earlier claim that the cameras were not working. Kundu said there was enough evidence against the two men. Amid fears that the high-profile links of the accused had led to watering down of the charges to “stalking” and “wrongful restraint”, Kundu said some of his friends had advised him to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Why should I do that,” he said. “After 70 years of independence, we should be able to expect that the police, prosecution and judiciary will do the right thing. I am testing the system to see if it can deliver justice.”
According to Kundu, after his daughter reached home on Friday night, both of them went back on a request from the police — first to the spot where the men had been nabbed and were still waiting, and then to the police station. “I introduced myself, at which the police asked me, ‘aap kya karna chahte hain (what do you want to do)’. We were clear from the beginning that we wanted a case to be registered. But what this shows is that the police are not mentally prepared to file an FIR immediately, although the policemen in the PCR saw the brazenness with which the crime was being committed,” he said. Kundu said it was fortunate that the crime was committed in the jurisdiction of Chandigarh police. “It would have been next to impossible (to get justice) in Haryana, despite being an IAS officer,” he said.
When contacted, BJP leader Krishan Dhull told The Indian Express: “Mein gaya tha, lekin compromise karvane nahin. Sirf ek baar ye kehne ki Baralaji se baat karlen. Jaise aap ek pidit pita hain, vaise Baralaji bhi ek pidit pita hain. Baralaji ne unhe phone kiya, par unhone liye hi nahin. Maine dubara bola ek baar baat kar lijiye, unhone kahan aaj kisi se baat nahin karunga (I did not go there to strike a compromise. I went to ask him to talk to Barala. Just as he is an aggrieved father, Barala too is an aggrieved father. Barala called him up, but he didn’t take the call. I asked him again to talk to him, but he said he would not talk to anyone),” he said.