Determined to fight the case of stalking of her daughter to the end, senior Haryana-cadre IAS officer V S Kundu on Monday said that “supporters of criminals” have started a campaign aimed at “character assassination” of his daughter, but the family will not come under such pressure and is “mentally prepared” to battle it out. “Baseless posts are being posted on social media by taking photographs from my daughters’ Facebook account and the internet. This is pressure tactic,” Kundu told The Indian Express at his residence in Panchkula, bordering Chandigarh in Haryana.
Kundu, Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Tourism), gave the example of an old photograph of his daughter that is being circulated on social media forums in an attempt to project that his daughter, Varnika was with the accused. “In reality, the picture was clicked with a musician from South (India) in 2011 or 2012.” Varnika was stalked, allegedly by Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala’s son Vikas and a friend, late Friday night. IAS (Central) Association, the officers’ association, has called for “exemplary and timely punishment” for offences against women and called the stalking case “absolutely shocking” in one tweet thus far. In private, officers are using various social media groups to seek more action from the representative body to keep pressure on the state police, sources said. Also Read: Chandigarh stalking case: No ‘kidnapping bid’ charge in FIR, police says probe still on
Passing a collective resolution and sending it to top levels of the government have also been reportedly suggested and discussed on WhatsApp groups of officers. The Haryana IAS officers’ association is learnt to have had a meeting on the issue. On Monday, Kundu, 55, said that the culprits and their associates are “making efforts that somehow the blame for the incident is put on my daughters, or my family. That’s why they have started this character assassination campaign.” But, the 1986-batch IAS officer said, “We are mentally prepared…(to fight) such tactics. This is happening in almost all cases — whenever any girl tries to pursue her case, such character assassination takes place. I have already told my daughters about this and asked them to be prepared.” Also Read: Subhash Barala won’t resign, says Haryana BJP minister
Stating that the family is not worried, he said, “We have got a message of support and solidarity from across the country. I feel in a case where so many people are ready to support the truth, then the future of the country is safe.” In a tweet linking a Facebook post by Kundu, the IAS Officer’s Association had on Saturday said, “Absolutely shocking. Time we made our nation a safe place for all women. Exemplary & timely punishment for offences a must.” The association claims to represent all 5,000-odd IAS officers in India. Also Read: Why was she out late at night, BJP leader asks, faces flak
So far, IAS (Central) Association has not come out with any resolution, neither has it issued any statement, barring the tweet.
This measured response is in contrast with the aggressive protests the representative body has displayed whenever it has felt that one of its own has been wronged. Like in the case of former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, prosecuted in the coal scam this year, the associated not only rallied in support but also went to town with the message that innocent officers being made scapegoats. Some officers told The Indian Express that the assessment of the incident, and the subsequent action of local police, is also being viewed in the light of the infamous rivalry between IAS and IPS officers by many. “Lower-rank police officers have performed their duty well, but it high-ranking officers appeared to have come under pressure — or that this the impression that has gone out,” an IAS officer said, describing the responses received on one of the IAS officers’ WhatsApp groups. Also Read: Centre trying to hush up issue to shield state BJP chief, son: Congress
Social media posts such as how Vikas Barala and his friend were apparently fed “burger and tea” by the police in the police station as per instructions from the top officers, is being circulated widely. Virender Kundu’s Facebook post, in which he appeals for justice and narrates the whole incident, is also being widely circulated in personal chat platforms of IAS officers. Kundu wrote in the post that the he is not demanding that the family of the accused be punished in any way. “We do not hold the families responsible for the crimes of these men,” he wrote. “We want them to be punished for the offences they have actually committed, and awarded punishment commensurate with their culpability. Not over punished, but definitely not under punished either.”