The men are huddled around a hookah in the middle of an unmaintained park, the whiff of tobacco is in the air. The women, on the outside, talk in hushed voices and draw their children into their homes as they point to the house at the end of the street, where the complainant who lodged an FIR against former AAP minister Sandeep Kumar lives.
Till Saturday afternoon, the neighbours, who did not wish to be identified, said they knew nothing about the case or the MLA’s private conduct. “No one on the street lowered their voices while talking about the residents of the first floor house, but today they are,” said a local resident, barely 10 steps from the woman’s house.
The house is padlocked and the residents claim that the woman, along with her family, temporarily moved from the locality last night. She did not have a job and mostly stayed at home, taking care of her children and her husband who worked at a textile factory in west Delhi. “We did not even speculate on who the woman in the ‘objectionable’ CD might be till we saw police and the media outside the house on Saturday,” said another neighbour.
A person died in the locality the same evening and so the mood was sombre. The neighbours said because most people were busy with the bereaved family, “the episode could have gone unnoticed but then someone passed around a clip of her statement and then the crowd started growing.”
In the clip, she says she had met Sandeep Kumar on the street where she lived. “I needed help to get a ration card and he called me over to his house. I did not know he was recording the meeting. This happened only once. I moved from that locality and got a ration card for my family at my new address.”
According to neighbours, her husband and mother-in-law arrived at the house later in the evening and by morning, everyone had left.
The neighbours question her version of events. The also ask why she did not speak out until after the CD was leaked. “We do not know of anyone who had to go through this for a ration card. We all have ration cards.”
The ration card is in the name of the woman, they do not disagree with that. “But then it was not his office he called her to,” they say. The men look on as the women talk among themselves.
Just outside the colony, where the lanes get just about wide enough for a vehicle to pass by, a board announcing Sandeep Kumar’s name, designation, portfolio and his address are covered in black paint.