Chandigarh stalking case: BJP leader's son Vikas Barala arrested; fresh charges slapped

The incident of stalking happened on the night of August 4-5. 

Chandigarh stalking case: BJP leader's son Vikas Barala arrested; fresh charges slapped

Chandigarh: The Chandigarh Police on Wednesday arrested Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala's son Vikas and co-accused Ashish Kumar on charges of trying to abduct a 29-year-old-woman.

Both accused, who appeared before police this afternoon, were interrogated by police officials for more than two hours before being booked under Section 365 (kidnapping or abduction with intent to confine person) and Section 511 (attempt to commit an offence punishable with life imprisonment).

The accused will be produced before a court on Thursday, an official said.

This is the second time that Vikas and his friend Kumar have been arrested in the stalking case, which has triggered a nation-wide outrage and a spate of protests.

The incident of stalking happened on the night of August 4-5. The Chandigarh Police came under widespread criticism for allegedly favouring the accused who stalked and intimidated Varnika Kundu, 29, the daughter of Haryana Additional Chief Secretary VS Kundu.

Both the accused arrived amid high drama at the Sector 26 police station, in a Ford Endeavour SUV, amid pouring rain.

The two were earlier arrested on Saturday following the woman's complaint but released on bail as they had been booked under bailable sections of the IPC and the Motor Vehicles Act.

We had summoned both the accused and they were questioned for nearly three hours today during which many things came to the fore, Chandigarh DGP Tejinder Singh Luthra told reporters.

"We have decided that against both the accused we are going to press fresh charges; one is attempt to abduct, which will have two sections - 365 and 511. We have also decided to put both the accused under arrest," he said.

The maximum punishment for the offence under the charge applied today is up to seven years' imprisonment.

Asked about the reason behind adding the fresh charge, the DGP explained that in the last four days, the police had recorded the statements of witnesses and also examined CCTV footage.

"We reconstructed the scene of the crime. We have also reconstructed the route of the chase and from there, many new facts, new evidence have emerged," Luthra claimed.

The two accused will now be produced before a court tomorrow and the police will seek their custody, he said.

"Because in this investigation, there are many things for which we require their custody...We will confront them with facts and the scene of the crime, which was the route of the chase. It will be reconstructed along with the accused. Many facts will be confirmed in that process," he said.

Varnika Kundu, the woman who had lodged the complaint, termed the arrests today as a "great development".

Thanking everyone for their overwhelming support, the daughter of an IAS officer said: "If we continue this movement, cases like these will get a lot rarer".

At the press conference, DGP Luthra was asked whether the accused were cooperating with the investigation,

"There are many things in the probe which I cannot share because if I do so it will hamper the investigation," the senior IPS officer said.

Luthra claimed that there was no political pressure on the police.

"Whatever we are doing, we are doing in a professional and objective manner," he said.

Earlier, Vikas reached the police station in Chandigarh to join the investigation in connection with the stalking case.

Amid heavy security, the Haryana BJP chief's son and the other accused Kumar were whisked away straight into the Sector 26 police station.

Vikas reached the police station shortly after his father Subhash Barala addressed a press conference, saying "he will cooperate with the police investigation".

Congress and AAP workers held a protest outside the police station, condemning the stalking incident.

The police had summoned Vikas to join the investigation into the alleged stalking case. Vikas was asked to appear by 11 am, but he did not turn up at that time, a police official said.

Earlier, addressing media persons in the morning, DGP Luthra had said that police will ensure that the 29-year-old stalking victim gets justice.

He said that both the men had allegedly refused to give their blood and urine samples for medical examination.

The DGP claimed that the police had "sufficient" CCTV footage in connection with the case.

"The accused are the law graduates and they are well versed with the law. They refused to give samples (blood and urine samples) to the duty doctor. Because they know that under the law, they can refuse this," Luthra said while talking to reporters here.

"They know the law very well, therefore they refused to give these samples. However, in such circumstances, such refusal shall be held against them in the investigation and during the trial.”

BJP's Haryana chief Subhash Barala had yesterday said that Varnika was like his daughter and assured that there was no pressure on the police from his or his party's side.

(With PTI inputs)