Chandigarh: They began as national heroines, showered with praise for fighting men on a bus who had allegedly harassed them. But as conflicting evidence emerged, a cash reward promised to Pooja and Arti Kumar, age 19 and 22, has been put on hold by the Haryana government. What began as a narrative of feisty bravery shows signs of rupture.
The video that went viral last week, showing the sisters belting a trio of men on a bus in Rohtak in Haryana, was shot by a pregnant woman, the sisters said. The fact that other passengers watched passively magnified the courage of the sisters. But attempts to find the pregnant woman who allegedly filmed the encounter on a cellphone have yielded no results.
Then two days later, another video surfaced of the young women beating up a man in a public park. They said it was filmed by a witness. In this case, too, the witness has not been found. There's also no explanation for how someone is always available to film the sisters in action. When asked, Pooja said, "I am 19 years old. At least 2,000 boys have harassed me. More videos will surface."
In the case of the incident on the bus, the families of the three men who were arrested for allegedly harassing the girls said they were innocent. An elderly woman who was on the bus has said in an affidavit to the police that the men did not misbehave.
But the bus conductor said he warned the men to leave Arti and Pooja alone. The families of the arrested suspects met Haryana chief minister M L Khattar and he he assured them of an impartial inquiry. Khattar said that the girl's reward of Rs 31,000 each, promised by him, would be withheld till the police inquiry was completed.
Police assures free and fair probe
Assuring that the investigation into the harassment case would be conducted in a free and fair manner, Superintendent of Police Shashank Anand said six women had turned up to give their statements to the police. "We are going to conduct a free and fair investigation of the incident. Today, the inquiry officer, DSP Yashpal, told me that six women have come to give their statements to the police. I have asked the investigating officer to carry out a thorough and unbiased investigation, the future course of action depends on the report submitted by the investigating officer," Anand added.