Mumbai

For Varnika Kundu, the fight is not over yet

Leading the way: Varnika Kundu at the seminar ‘We the Women’ in Mumbai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

Battling stalkers in the dead of night as she was driving back home from work was just the beginning of the series of battles Varnika Kundu has had to fight since August 4. “I felt young only till that night,” says the 29-year-old disc jockey.

Stubborn, independent

Being shamed for what she underwent on social media was the next big battle. And, of course, the fear of reprisal from Vikas Barala, the main accused in the case who is the son of the Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief. “Now I step out stubborn and independent. I have fought through it anyway,” she told The Hindu, on the sidelines of ‘We the Women’, an event on women’s empowerment held at Mehboob Studios, Bandra, over the weekend.

Ms. Kundu has armed herself, literally and figuratively. She has learnt self-defence techniques in the months since, and undergone the requisite training for acquiring an arms licence. The incident, she says, has made her “strong and unbreakable.”

The streaks of grey in her hair — which she proudly displays — are perhaps just one sign of her “ageing.” But more than that, it is an indication that she is unafraid to be her own woman. “I hate to be called a victim and I am not afraid to step out at night. It is empowering to me that I got away from the situation that night,” she says.

Family support

The strength, she says, comes from her upbringing. “During childhood, when cousins played together, we were considered equal. We didn’t know the difference between a girl and a boy.” What also helped was support from her family following the incident. Her father, V.S. Kundu, an IAS officer, said at the event that as parents, they had never bound their daughters with any kind of curfew or choices, and even after what has happened, that will not change.

Not giving in

While the incident did shake her up — “Those 6 km felt like forever. I was trembling and having a panic attack for the first time in my life. It was a matter of life and death for me” — she has steadfastly refused to let it scar her.

‘Overwhelmed’

On being shamed on social media for staying out late, she started a campaign on Facebook using the tag #AintNoCinderella, which caught on among youngsters across the country. Women, in particular, raged against the curfew being imposed on them through Tweets and Facebook posts. For all of this support, she says, she “repetitively feels overwhelmed.” Her aim, though, was to try and explain to women that it can happen to them too, and to hold themselves together through it all. “There is no shame in it.”

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 9:55:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/for-varnika-kundu-the-fight-is-not-over-yet/article21555667.ece

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