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11 Aug 2017

Barala's son says he was at wheel- charged for attempted kidnapping on stalking Varnika

Vikas (left), Ashish
TT, Chandigarh, Aug. 10: Police today identified Ashish Kumar as the person who had knocked on Varnika Kundu's car window after Vikas Barala apparently "admitted" he was driving the SUV that allegedly stalked her.
Vikas, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, and friend Ashish had both been charged with attempted kidnapping and rearrested following a furore, after initially being booked only for stalking and drink-driving and given bail.
Officers did not clarify today whether the attempted kidnapping charge - which can bring up to seven years in jail - could now be dropped against Vikas since the police seem convinced that he had stayed at the wheel throughout the car chase.
"He (Vikas) was shown the CCTV footage. He admitted that he was behind the wheel of the SUV while his friend occupied the next seat," a senior officer said, asking not to be identified.
"We'll be reconstructing the crime with their help. We also have to find out what prompted the two to chase the girl. We have to find out why Ashish stepped out of the SUV and knocked on the victim's window."
Vikas, 23, and Ashish, 27, were produced at the district court here today and remanded in two days' police custody.
Ashish is from a village in Haryana's Bhiwani district. "His father, a property dealer, died a few years ago. The family has been going through hard times since then," an officer said.
"Although he is a law graduate, Ashish is unemployed and would hang around with Vikas, a law student, most of the time."
The duo are accused of chasing Varnika, 29, a disc jockey and daughter of a Haryana IAS officer, across a stretch of 6km in Chandigarh close to midnight on August 4.
"When my car stopped at a traffic signal, one of the men jumped out and tried to enter my car," Varnika had told The Telegraph on August 6 --- an allegation directly related to the attempted kidnapping charge.
Her ordeal ended when the police answered a distress call she had made from her car and intercepted and arrested the accused. But the cops only invoked bailable charges and straightaway granted bail after a medical examination that the police say proved the duo were drunk.
As a huge controversy broke out, the two accused drove to Chandigarh's Sector 26 police station yesterday afternoon and surrendered. Rearrested after interrogation and charged with attempted kidnapping, they were produced in court around 2.30 this afternoon.
Chandigarh police chief Tajender Singh Luthra said yesterday's arrests had been made on the basis of the progress made in the investigation.
"New evidence had emerged in the form of the CCTV footage, and legal opinion on whether (penal code) Section 511 (attempt to commit a punishable crime) should be added was favourable," Luthra said.
Section 511 will be read with Section 365 (kidnapping). The graver charges were invoked after Luthra had a discussion with Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi yesterday afternoon.
Police sources have clarified that both the accused had refused to give urine and blood samples for a medical examination on August 4 night --- as was their right --- but a breathalyser test had confirmed they were drunk.

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