mid day editorial: Give stalking the seriousness it deserves

May 11, 2018, 07:17 IST | Team mid day

The accused was released on bail five days after the woman lodged a complaint against him

Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report about a Malad resident called Abhijit Mukharji, 25, who was arrested for stalking a 26-year-old woman for eight years. The accused was released on bail five days after the woman lodged a complaint against him. While the court granted bail on strict restrictions, senior officers from the Mumbai Crime Branch have said they will be reviewing the case.

To elaborate, the crime branch arrested Mukharji, who worked for a famous search engine company, on May 3 and remanded in police custody till May 6. This man stalked the woman, hacked into her Tinder account and wiped out all the 'likes' on her account.

While there are restrictions put on the stalker, it is surprising that bail has been granted within five days, for harassment that went on for eight years. The report states that he had even met the woman in Mumbai. Post the meeting, where his conversation rang warning bells for the woman, he started threatening her and warning her not to talk to anybody else because he loved her. She finally filed a complaint.

Let us give stalking the seriousness it deserves. Very often, it is dismissed as casual or harmless. Women who are often told by people that they are imagining there is a stalker. Their fears and concerns are trivialised and they may also be accused to exaggerating the harassment or their discomfort with the stalking.

Making excuses for stalking, like he thought she was someone else, or that he was drunk and did not know he was stalking, are also inexcusable. Online stalking is dangerous and can escalate very quickly to offline situations. Stalking is harassment. It is a crime. It can lead to a dangerous obsession. Treat it with the gravitas it deserves and shut down stalking through severe punishment.

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