The case of a Haryana BJP leader's son allegedly stalking a 29-year-old woman seems to have kicked up a veritable storm in the local polity, and that tempest is threatening to blow up.
There have already been calls for Subhash Barala, whose son Vikas was arrested in connection with the case, to step down as Haryana BJP chief, while the victim herself has chosen to face the camera along with her bureaucrat father to detail the ordeal she underwent in the early hours of Saturday, August 5 in Chandigarh.
However, as all this was taking place on one side, regional politics was rearing its head on the other, and in all three forms: The good, the bad and the ugly. Here is how it all played out.
We start with the ugly apropos of Haryana BJP leader Ramveer Bhatti. With the Congress attacking Vikas for his alleged actions, Ramveer chose to attack the victim, asking what she was doing out all alone after midnight.
"The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night. Why was she driving so late in the night? The atmosphere is not right. We need to take care of ourselves," he told a news channel.
When called up to confirm whether he had indeed made the statement, he told another news channel: "Parents should take care of their daughters. They should not be allowed to roam out of the house late in the night. They should come back home on time."
So how bad is the case? Given that the police are accused of diluting the charges against Vikas — which led to him coming out on bail just hours after his arrest — one would say that things are not exactly rosy.
Then there are allegations that CCTV footage from five out of the seven cameras along the road where Vikas and his friend Ashish Kumar stalked the victim in an inebriated state have gone missing. The police, however, clarified on Monday evening that this was not the case.
The victim, meanwhile, has alleged that the police refused to entertain her complaint that Vikas and Ashish were trying to abduct her, and instead slapped charges of stalking and wrongful restraint against the duo.
These are bailable charges, while the kidnap charge — the girl said the two had tried to open the door of her car in order to reach her — would have attracted a non-bailable warrant. And the Congress has alleged this was done under pressure from the local BJP leadership.
Amid all this, the victim found support in her father, a top bureaucrat. He took to Facebook to say: "If we do not persist in trying to bring the guilty to justice, more and more daughters will suffer this hurt."
However, he also expressed fears that the struggle for justice could be tough. "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," he wrote.
The girl also received support from within the BJP itself! Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga spoke out against Ramveer Bhatti when the latter asked what the girl was doing out so late at night.
Bagga not only condemned Bhatti's statement but also said a girl has "full right to go anywhere and anytime."
Not only that, Bagga also jumped at the chance to clarify matters when Twitterati tried to malign the victim, claiming that she and Vikas knew each other.
The controversy over the entire incident will rage on for the next few days now, with the Congress trying to score brownie points while the BJP goes to damage-control mode. The entire event could have some far-reaching effects in Indian polity.