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It's A Shame That We Can't Go Around Our Own City Feeling Safe

It's A Shame That We Can't Go Around Our Own City Feeling Safe

Being born and brought up in Chandigarh, I always believed that Chandigarh is a much safe city compared to ‘rape hubs’ like Delhi. Here, I never worried about driving alone in the night, nor did my parents when I was out, but now things have changed, Chandigarh is no more safe city, Chandigarh is no more different. There are many beasts in the city waiting for women to step out alone (they don't even spare teenagers and little kids). So beware and watch out for the creep round the corner.

On August 2017, Varnika Kundu, a DJ, barely escaped after she was chased around by two rich, drunk men in an SUV on the roads of Chandigarh. This horrific tragedy of abuse happened when she was driving back to her home alone after midnight on a fairly crowded stretch with many traffic lights and CPRs. She was made to race for her life but her sheer presence of mind on sensing the danger, fight-back approach, and just in time assistance by Chandigarh police saved her from the goons. A minute later might have been too late.

Varnika Kundu shared the atrocious experience she had on the so called safe roads of Chandigarh:


That being said, I'd like to take a moment to commend and thank Chandigarh Police for unparalleled efficiency and attention to a distress call from me. They almost restore my faith in the system.

Here's what went down;

I was driving home from the sector-8 market at about 12:15am, and crossed the road into sec-7, where the petrol pump is.
I was also on the phone with a friend at the time, and realised about a minute later that a car was following me.

It was a White SUV, and as I noticed it, it pulled up and started driving alongside my car. I was now in sec-7, heading towards the lights next to St.Johns' in 26.

There were 2 guys inside the SUV, and they seemed to really be enjoying harassing a lone girl in the middle of the night, judging by how often their car swerved,
just enough to scare me that it might hit me.

By now I was totally alert and mildly panic-y, so I decided to turn right from the St.Johns' traffic lights towards Madhya Marg(a more crowded, seemingly safer road).
I tried to turn right from the lights but the SUV blocked my way, forcing me to go straight into sec-26.

At the next turn, I tried to turn again, but this time they went a step further;
Right at the turn, they blocked the road in front of my car, and the guy in the passenger seat got out of the car and started walking towards me. I reversed as fast as I could and went straight and took the next right turn before they could catch up again.

I used this time to also call the cops at 100, and explain to them the situation and my exact location and where I was headed. The cop who answered my call intuitively sensed the urgency in my voice and promised me that help would be along very soon.

I hung up and had now reached the main road, and hadn't seen the SUV for about 15 seconds, so I hoped, that they'd seen me calling the cops and disappeared. I was wrong.

I was now on a straight road for about 5-6kms (Madhya Marg), and that entire time, the SUV stayed alongside my car, trying to bully me into stopping every 10-15 seconds LITERALLY.
I was in a full-blown panic attack by now because they would keep trying to corner me, and I'd somehow manoeuvre my way out and keep moving.
My hands shaking, my back spasming from fear, half in tears, half bewildered, because I didn't know if I'd make it home tonight.
Who knew when, or if, the cops would show up.

These guys INCESSANTLY bullied me all the way to Solitaire(end of 6kms), and at the traffic lights, blocked my car for the final time.
This time they meant business because they left me absolutely no space to move or escape, and the passenger JUMPED out of the car and moved towards mine.
I don't know how, but I reversed my car and moved to the right where there was space, all this while constantly honking so the few vehicles around would know something was wrong.

At this point, the guy had reached my car, banged loudly on my window, AND TRIED TO OPEN THE DOOR HANDLE!

Just as he did this, I saw a PCR pull up at the lights, quite possibly in response to my call. They heard me honking, and saw the SUV swerving left and right in an attempt to block me, and a couple of cops ran out towards the SUV, nabbing it just in time, because they were blocked in by traffic.

I, still shaking from fear, drove straight home, and told Virender Kundu what happened, getting him back with me to file the complaint.

The 2 boys, who of course, are from influential families with political connections, have been arrested and the complaint has been filed.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I need to mention and thank Chd Police again because had it not been for their timely response, I might not be writing this status today.

If this is what women deal with in one of the safer cities in the country, where are we going?
I find it shocking, that in a place with cameras at every light and cops every 200 metres, these boys thought they could either get into my car or take me into theirs, just because they're from an influential background.

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.

If this can happen in Chd, it can happen anywhere.

LADIES! Please be proactive about your own safety;

DON'T BE AFRAID to call the cops, The minute it starts!
Call your parents, if possible, and let them know where you are and the situation you're in.
Try and run away, in the safest way possible.
YOUR LIFE IS PARAMOUNT! If he walks towards you, use whatever you can as a weapon.
I was never a big fan of weapons, until last night.
Whether it's a gun or mace or taser or a golf club or a knife,
it's going to make you feel safer and more confident.


Her father Virender Kundu also posted this terrifying incident on Facebook.

“I would like to share with you all a horrendous experience we went through last night.
My daughter Varnika was returning home around midnight yesterday in her car when a couple of goons started following her in a tata safari. This started at 12:15 am in sector 7 market. They tried to block her car at the traffic signal, but she showed the presence of mind and sped away. They chased her and blocked her way time and again. She again maneuvered away. She called the police while driving and informed them. The goons continued to chase her and attempting to block her for a few kilometers. She sped thru all red lights, but had to stop at a signal as there were cars stopped there. She swerved thru the traffic and the stalkers followed her brazenly. One of the goons jumped out and tried to enter her car. She somehow maneuvered an escape while honking continuously. police guys from a PCR ran to apprehend the goons. They called us, and we went to the police station in sector 26. The filing of the complaint and their medical examination etc took four hours. But the FIR was finally lodged and the goons arrested.

Chandigarh police were pretty efficient and helpful. They intercepted the goons, were responsive to Varnika's distress calls, and were neutral in filing the complaint.

We are thankful that she survived this ordeal. The goons had a very clear intention of abducting her, and she escaped due to her courage and presence of mind, but it was a very close call, and her trauma is unimaginable. I suppose it will take her a long time to go back to a normal life.

As a father of two daughters, I feel compelled to take this matter to its logical conclusion. The goons must be punished, and the law must take its course. As would be expected, the goons are from influential families. We all know most such cases of harassment go unpunished and even unreported. Most people would not want or dare to take on goons from influential families. I feel if people with some privileges like us cannot stand up to such criminals, nobody in India can. More importantly, I will be failing in my duty as a father to my daughter if I did not stand with her completely in this matter.

I am sharing this with you all for two reasons. One, to give a true and clear picture of what happened. Two, to get some assurance of support in case it's needed.

Our clear intention is to bring the culprits to book. We do not intend to harm the families or relatives. However, we know it's not going to be an easy struggle. The possibility of harassment and witch-hunting, threats and even physical harm is undeniable, even though unlikely. Influential families can sometimes take desperate measures to discredit or disable the complainants. Sane friends may advise us against our course of action. We may be foolhardy.
However, I know that the trauma and hurt my daughter has undergone cannot be undone. If we do not persist in trying to bring the guilty to justice, more and more daughters will suffer this hurt. Maybe some may not be as lucky as Varnika. Someone has to stand up. We are standing. So long as we can.”

Women harassment is not just a ‘women’s issue’. All women have a right to live a life free from the fear and all of us have a role to play in making this a reality. Over the last few years, the issue of women's safety has gained public attention and concern in India but still, most of the women run the daily risk and fear of harassment, attack, assault, rape, and murder, both within their homes and outside. Instead, women are nowadays told to stay away from places and situations that are potentially violent or to avoid public spaces and stay at home as much as possible, not to go out at night, not to travel alone, not to wear clothes they want to, not to protest if someone harasses them and so on.

Delhi or Chandigarh, no place is safe for girls anymore!

Abhilasha Sidana

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Abhilasha Sidana
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A girl with Atlas in her hands, adventure in her eyes, wanderlust in her blood. Professionally, she creates and curates socially relevant viral-worthy content. Abhilasha's life and work led her to her current role as an Entrepreneur. 
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