Report the devil
Last Friday, as a large part of the nation celebrated women empowerment giving thumbs-up to Dangal, Aamir Khan’s biopic on Haryana women wrestler Geeta Phogat, another woman found it difficult to wrestle out of the foul grip of her stalker in the outskirts of Pune. Antara Das, a 23-year-old techie from Kolkata working with Capgemini in Talawade near Pune was stabbed to death at KNB square at Talawade when she was returning from the office on Friday evening. According to eye-witnesses, Das tried to fight her way out. Antara’s family has expressed suspicion about the possible role of a friend of hers in the murder. She had met the suspect – Santosh Kumar - during her training in Bangalore. Santosh had even come to Pune when she was scheduled to appear for an interview for Capgemini and allegedly threatened to kill her. According to eye-witnesses, Antara had got involved in a heated exchange with the killer that lasted for around 15 minutes before she was killed. The incident once again brings into focus the security of young women increasingly coming out of their home towns to seek employment. Antara’s is not the first case of a young female techie being stalked, attacked, and murdered. In July last year S Swathi, a young Infosys employee, was brutally hacked in broad daylight of at Chennai’s Nungambakkam railway station. Earlier, in October 2008, a 22-year-old software developer Khushboo Mishra was brutally murdered by her boyfriend and co-worker Manu Mohinder Abrol (25) at her rented flat in Balewadi area. First Khushboo, then Swathi and now Antara’s murder in cities like Pune and Chennai, known to be relatively safer for women, has shone a harsh light on public safety. These murders have expectedly reinforced a feeling of insecurity. It has been witnessed in the cases that the issue of harassment at work place or by friends or colleagues creates a dilemma in the mind of the victim about whether to report or not. Kumar had proposed to Antara in Bangalore which she turned down. Kumar then came down to Pune with the same request. Although she had informed her family about Kumar, they did not lodge a complaint because they thought that Kumar could not go to the extent of murder. This was a grave error of judgment on their part as it’s very difficult to judge the mischief which the devil residing inside an obsessive mind can do. However, repeated cases of stalking, many times violent and sometimes even fatal, clearly show that it should never be taken lightly and the matter must be reported to police upon the first instance. In such matters, the law could act as a deterrent. Had the family reported the matter to the police and her employers, better arrangements for Antara’s personal security could have been made. The possibility of engaging the obsessed stalker to give up his evil designs could also have been there. Brushing the matter under the carpet only harmed Antara, a great loss which they will always find difficult to overcome.