Haryana's headline-grabbing sisters: Local heroes or serial beaters?
Chandigarh, Dec 8: Just a week back, they were 'role models' and the darlings of the media and dial-a-quote experts who had dared to take on male tormentors in a patriarchal society in Haryana. But things changed drastically for the two braveheart sisters who thrashed three youths for allegedly molesting and assaulting them.
The same sisters are now being scrutinised for their actions after more videos have gone viral alleging that they were "serial beaters" as far as boys in Haryana's Rohtak and Sonipat districts were concerned. Videos linked to the two teenaged sisters, Aarti and Pooja, and independent investigations into their 'heroic' act of taking on molesters are now questioning the objective behind these two thrashing boys.
When they hit the national headlines for the first time last week, one of the sisters openly went on record to claim that they have, in the past, thrashed many youths who had harassed women.
The Haryana government had first announced that the sisters would be honoured during the next Republic Day (Jan 26) celebrations.
However, the government later put the move on hold pending a complete investigation into the Nov 28 incident in which three youths were thrashed by them inside a moving Haryana Roadways bus near Rohtak.
Other voices have now started coming out against the sisters's actions.
"The girls went overboard claiming 2,000 boys have molested them till date. A simple arithmetic, assuming the girls being molested for last five years or 1,825 days, the girls got molested virtually every day. Raising a false alarm shot the girls to instant fame," Amit Gupta, convener of NGO Hridaya which works for the 'Save Indian Family' movement, told IANS.
Many people, including women and activists in Rohtak district, have come out openly to challenge the sisters' claims.
"We were told that there are several boys who are victims of these girls. A lot of people who have seen the rowdyism by these girls have also come out," independent filmmaker Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj, who visited the villages of the 'victims' and the 'accused' after the incident, told IANS.
Deepika's video "The other side of Rohtak bravehearts" has got nearly 300,000 hits on YouTube.
"The sole purpose of making this video was to present the other side of the story. Some laws are being rampantly misused (by women). Mere accusations are enough to ruin the entire life of a person," Deepika said.
"What I found was shocking. Most people, without knowing much about the case, were blindly applauding the act of the women who have blackmailed and extorted several boys in the past and have been misusing laws made for protection of women.
"I saw an entire village and others standing in support of the young boys," Deepika said, adding that she met "past victims" of the two sisters.
In the media frenzy and the three youths being sent to custody for five days, there were reports that the army authorities announced that two of them, who had applied to get into the armed forces, would not be considered.
"We want the Haryana government and police to investigate how many people have been cheated by the same girls. They should take action against the girls if this has happened," Gupta said.
On their part, after the initial media hoopla over their 'bravery', the sisters stood by their claims about the bus incident.
"We are being pressurised to withdraw the case and things are being said against us for this. We want the authorities to investigate the real truth," Aarti told the media at her home.
An old woman, who was a passenger on the same bus, rubbished the sisters' claims saying the fight was over seats and not molestation as the girls alleged.