One Sunday, my friends and I decided to explore the book market at Daryaganj. We had heard a lot about the varieties of second hand books and that we could buy one for as less as twenty bucks! So, the three bookworms - Ritika, Prateek and I, took the metro to Chandni Chowk.
We reached the market around 5 in the evening and we were mesmerised by the amount and variety of books being sold there. Children's books, novels, textbooks… the list was endless!
Another thing I noticed was that the whole area was very crowded, everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. While I was trying to take in the whole scene, I felt a hand grab my butt. I surprised myself with what I did next...
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There was a sudden surge of adrenaline inside me and my hand reacted faster than my brain. I immediately caught hold of the hand groping me, looked at the person and slapped him across his face. My friends heard the sound of the slap at looked at me puzzled. I told them what had happened and then they joined in. While we beat up that guy, a crowd started gathering around us. Then, I called the police.
I had never been this angry, I understood what rage means that day. How dare this guy think that he has the right to touch me? But this rage was nothing compared to what I felt next when the people who had gathered actually began to say, "chhor do ab...janey do". I just grabbed that guy’s backpack and stood there waiting for the cops to come. My friends were trying to disperse the crowd and suddenly the guy made a run for it!
Believe me, I have never ran as fast as I did that day. I ran after him, caught up to him and pulled him down by his backpack. I again started punching him, he again tried to run but Ritika, who had also run after us, had reached on time to take him down. There was a tiny commotion again but the cops showed up and caught the guy. We then made our way to the Daryaganj Police Station.
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As we entered the thana, the officer behind the desk looked up, saw the guy and said “You are back again?" Apparently, this guy had spent the previous night in the lockup as he was caught robbing someone. However, his victim had dropped the charges and he got out in the afternoon on that day.
The officer took statements from my friends and me. The Station Incharge even apologized to me on behalf of all men!
The first hearing of my case was scheduled only in January of 2016, while the incident happened in 2014. On the day of hearing, I had to spend the whole day in court because the culprit didn't show up and apparently my statement cannot be taken without the "accused" being present at the court.
Though, the judge assured me that an arrest warrant would be issued in the culprit’s name as he was found guilty of contempt of court, I couldn't help but wonder who is the one getting punished here? The culprit who is free and nowhere to be found or me, who has to go through the mental anguish of facing him, waste my day sitting in the court whenever a summons is issued and then go home without any peace of mind because the accused didn't show up.
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But this experience did teach me valuable lessons - I am not weak. Girls should not remain silent and instead should stand up to such people. Such sleazy men can only be stopped from harassing other girls if we face them without being afraid. Girls, stay strong and remember to stand up for what is right.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
Published on May 16, 2016