mid-day editorial: There's no such thing as harmless stalking

Stalking has become a talking point ever since Chandigarh resident Varnika Kundu's ordeal, when she was followed home by Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala. Stalking is not a new crime, but is now in the public focus because of the high-profile nature of the case. Thanks to intense media pressure, Vikas is now in the police net.

This paper had also reported two recent cases of stalking in the city. An Amboli resident was followed home late at night by an IT professional, who rang her doorbell at 2 am. Another young man was brutally beaten up after he accosted three youths for stalking his sister.

Stalking is a serious crime, but is often downplayed or simply dismissed by some. Some will shrug it off, thinking that as long as there's no harm done, the stalker isn't doing anything wrong. But stalking can be highly traumatic for the target, because it preys on their fear. What's worse is that people then attempt to place the blame on the woman, as they did with Varnika, trying to make it seem like the accused was her friend, or questioning why she was out late at night.

Stalking breaches on the victim's privacy and personal space, and there's no telling when the stalker will get violent. It can have other tragic consequences as well. For instance, if a woman is driving and is being chased by the stalker's car, she can end up losing her life or limbs in an accident. If she is on foot, then a similar accident can occur if she runs on the road and is run over by a vehicle, all because she is desperate to get away.

Making excuses for the stalkers is inexcusable. There is no justification for harassment and make no mistake, stalking is nothing but harassment. In fact, there is no excuse for going soft on stalkers either.

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