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How The Police Arrested The Guy Who Masturbated At Us, Within Hours Of My Viral Post

Posted by Isha Chitnis in Gender-Based Violence, Staff Picks
July 14, 2017

Two days ago, I posted an article on this very platform about how a guy masturbated at me and my friend at CST Mumbai, and how the police havaldar I went to for help just walked away from the scene.

Since then, things have been wild.

After the first Times of India article was shared, an inspector messaged me on Facebook asking me to contact him – which I did. He asked me for details and the description of the perpetrator while he scanned through the CCTV footage. He asked me to file an FIR and walked me through the entire process of lodging a formal complaint via email. We exchanged at least 25 calls yesterday. I also got a chance to speak to the ACP, who was extremely cooperative and patient throughout the process. Within six to seven hours of the start of the investigation, a photo of the guy was sent to me and I was asked to identify him.

The perpetrator was arrested within 24 hours of my article being shared on Facebook.

I was amazed. Oh, did I mention that I also spoke to the Commissioner of Railway Police Force, Mumbai? That’s right- he called me! Only after I spoke to him did I actually feel a little reassured that things were on the right track and that I had done the right thing. I must appreciate how the situation was handled by the officials. Hats off, RPF!

Justice was mine, no doubt. However, in the meantime, the story had also been picked up by Loksatta, Vagabomb, Storypick, Firstpost, and also Hindustan Times.

This video went completely and organically viral. I’m talking about 1 million views and 9000+ shares on Facebook. Those are some huge numbers if you consider the fact that I’m not famous, a celebrity or a journalist.

This is when things got really intense. I was called to the studio by a Marathi news channel, ABP Mazha. It was a very last minute call, but I somehow made it to the studio on time – and I was LIVE on TV with them for about 10 minutes.

As soon as this was done, messages from across the country started pouring in, along with friend requests (duh). I had to make my Instagram account private. All of these strangers who had watched me on TV hunted me down and followed me and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

At 8 PM, they replayed the interview with the update that the guy has been arrested. The journalist repeatedly asked the police officer on call what the name of the officer in the video was, but they wouldn’t give it away. We get it – you protect your own. Why didn’t you protect me then?

Meanwhile, The Quint did an article. Times of India did a follow-up article, as did Firstpost.

Others who featured articles on this include The Hindu, India Times, Samaa TV (Pakistan), Midday Print, Times of India Print, and many more.

The news has been everywhere, as far as I know. I have watched it on CNN News-18, Times NOW – and Aaj Tak, TV9, Times Now, among many others, have contacted me for an interview. However, I need time to recover from the amount of attention and phone calls I’ve been getting.

I don’t understand one thing, though. Why does an issue have to go viral for it to get so much attention? Why is there action taken only after national and international media put pressure on the concerned people? Why can’t an individual receive justice in the first try itself without having to reveal her/ his identity to the world and jeopardizing their privacy? The fact that it isn’t happening is a failure of the system- one that isn’t forgivable. Our booming population and high crime rate have desensitised all of us towards each other and each other’s problems. Will this change? I don’t know. Is it worth a try? Of course!

When a particular thing goes viral on social media, there are various kinds of responses that you receive. There have been messages coming in from all over the world telling me how brave I was to shoot the video and upload it, how I had the presence of mind to do that and that I did the right thing by doing this. Most of these messages have come from men, which was extremely reassuring. Women have called me and shared harrowing incidents of similar things happening to them. But, they always followed up with – “We never thought of reporting it, we just ignored it.” I can imagine why they wouldn’t want to speak up. Not all responses have been positive.

Here are a few comments and messages I’ve received in response to my post, all from men:

“Why are you shamelessly begging for sympathy? Your job is to report it to the police, and that’s it. Ridiculous.”

“Why did you shoot the video? To upload it to a porn site?”

“Why didn’t you just attack him? Why stand there and record the incident?”

“There is no need for that disgusting scene to be shown. Why didn’t you delete it?”

“Did you masturbate while looking at the guy and taking his video?”

“Think the reverse, how the media and feminists would react if a boy take a video of a girl musterbating” (Please note the spelling)

“This is just a publicity stunt. Girls will do anything for sympathy and attention nowadays.”

“I think someone disturbed his privacy.”

Each of these men’s words and actions – and each woman’s silence – contributes actively to the growth and encouragement of instances like these. Each of you has a voice – you just need to understand how to use it and for what cause. Do not feel afraid to speak up. There are people willing to support you if you show the courage to stand up for yourself. You are not alone – there’s always someone who has been through something similar, and they will stand by you. Some people care.


Image Source: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images