CHANDIGARH: Amid a growing chorus for the removal of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala whose son is accused of stalking a woman in Chandigarh, the party, sources say, has ruled out his resignation, saying the matter is related to his son. 23-year-old Vikas Barala and his friend have been accused by Varnika Kundu, the daughter of a Haryana bureaucrat, of stalking and trying to kidnap her; she shared her shared ordeal in a Facebook post. The duo, charged with only stalking and drink driving, were out on bail within hours of their arrest by a police patrol car.
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
The two allegedly chased Varnika Kundu, a DJ, on the streets of Chandigarh late on Friday night and even blocked her way. The police are yet to add the charge of kidnapping, an offence that does not allow bail.
Speaking to NDTV, Varnika said the two tried to say "it was a mistake" after being caught by the police. "A mistake happens once...not for kilometres...Cops shouldn't have to come and stop you!"
Though Subhash Barala and his son are incommunicado, Mr Barala's deputy Ramveer Bhatti came out with a shocking statement, questioning why the woman was "allowed to stay out late". "Parents must take care of their children... they shouldn't allow them to roam at night. Children should come home on time, why stay out at night?" Mr Bhatti said.
The comments reinforced criticism of the state's ruling BJP and apparent police laxity. Randeep Singh Surjewala of the opposition Congress alleges that five of seven CCTV cameras along the road where Varnika was chased are missing and it indicates an attempt to destroy evidence.
Kirron Kher, the BJP MP from Chandigarh, condemned her party colleague Mr Bhatti's comments and said: "There is no watering down of the case. I have been assured that the CCTV footage will be safe and the police will act."
In the Facebook post that has gone viral, Varnika described in chilling detail how men in a white SUV chased her down the streets of Chandigarh after midnight on Friday, tried to open her door, banged her window and "tried to abduct me".
"I'm lucky, it seems, to not be the daughter of a common man, because what chance would they have against such VIPs? I'm also lucky, because I'm not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere," she wrote.
When a police car responded to her frantic calls, one of the men was banging on her window and trying to open the door. The police, she wrote, managed to intercept the car and catch the young men. After the patrolling team's prompt response, however, the police have questionably omitted listing a more serious kidnapping charge against the politician's son.
Though she complained about the intention of the men to abduct her, the police have only added a "wrongful restraint" charge to her original FIR of stalking. The two accused are therefore out on bail.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the case had "nothing to do with Subhash Barala...It is an individual issue and law will take its course." Denying any political pressure, the police said the woman did not refer to kidnapping in her statement before the magistrate. The police now say they are taking legal opinion on adding harsher charges against the BJP leader's son.