Rohtak Sisters’ Story Turns Fake                                   

NEW DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 13: Rohtak Sisters, Aarti (R) and Pooja addressing a press conference on the controversy behind the videos showing thrashing their "molesters" on a moving bus and in a park is refusing to die down and now the entire episode has taken caste overtones with non-Jat groups asking the Haryana government to reinstate the bravery award announced for the girls, on December 13, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Both sisters had hit national headlines after a video showed them taking on three youth who they claimed had molested and assaulted them in a moving Haryana Roadways bus Nov 28, 2014. Also some passenger claimed that the youths had not indulged in harassment of the sisters and the fight was for the seat. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Rohtak sisters’ story has been proved fake. In late November 2014, a video went viral showing two sisters, Pooja and Aarti from Kharkhauda, fighting three men on a moving Haryana Roadways bus near Rohtak, Haryana. According to initial reports, the sisters, final year students of Bachelor of Computer Application in IC Women’s Government College, were waiting for the bus to return home when two young men from nearby village allegedly began harassing them. They also followed them onto their bus and called a third man who joined them en route. One of the men allegedly wrote his phone number on the paper and threw it at them and asked them to pick it up. The girls changed buses, the youth allegedly followed them and continued harassing despite a female to passenger’s objections. When one of the men grabbed Aarti’s neck, her sister Pooja used her belt to assault the men. The bus slowed at a speed breaker and the three men ejected the girls. One of the girls threw a brick at the men which hit one of them. The bus continued to move and passengers did not interfere. The girls called the women’s helpline but got no response. They returned home, told about the events to their parents and they filed a case at the Rohtak Sadar police station. The video was allegedly taken by a co-passenger by a cellphone camera. The event took place on 28 November 2014.

On 30 November, when this story got viral along with the video, Haryana Women’s Commission vice-chairperson Suman Dahiya said that she would visit the locality. The three accused were arrested by the police on the same day. The girls were praised by others too and a cash prize of Rs.31,000 each was announced by Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar on 1 December. By 2 December, TV channels had picked up the story and were visiting the girls’ home to interview them.

On 2 December, a second video went viral, which showed the girls hitting another boy in Rohtak. The girls claimed that the video was a month older, it was taken in HUDA park, Rohtak. The girls claimed that they were teased by some boys sitting on a bench and after one of the girls started hitting them, they fled. The girls denied that they had released the second video for publicity and said that they had not filed any case for that incident because the boys had fled.

On 5 December, six women claiming to be passengers on the bus had testified in front of the police. They said it was not an issue of harassment, but a dispute over seats as the girls had been occupying a seat allotted to a sick woman. The government put the prize on hold after the development.

On 8 December, the girls offered to undergo a narco analysis test to prove that their version of the events was true. By now the accused had been released on bails.By this time, a third video had emerged which showed one of the accused being beaten by his father in a police station and being asked to apologize to the girls. By now another man came forward and claimed that he had been similarly accused of molestation. He had to pay Rs.20,000 to have the charges dropped.

On 11 December, many groups of people gave their supports to the Jat caste girls. By this time, a longer unedited video had been found on the internet, in which the girls asked a third girl, who had filmed the incident on their phone, to return it. A witness also came forward claiming that she saw the girls ask a third girl to make the video.

On 13 December, the girls told the reporters that they had considered committing suicide due to the pressure and endless scrutiny from the society and that they would file the defamation case against those who are trying to malign their image.

On 15 December 2014, the local court gave permission to the police to run polygraph tests on the two girls and the witnesses.

On 18 January, the girls made a complaint to Suman Dahiya, vice-chairperson of the Haryana State Commission for Women, saying that they were being pressured to withdraw the case by authorities and that they were asked obscene questions during the polygraph test.

Around 19 February 2015, a local daily reported that the girls had failed the polygraph test, while the accused had passed it.

On 4 March in reply to an RTI request, the Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) said that the sisters had sought a transfer from Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Kharkhauda to the women’s Government College, Rohtak, by claiming that they were getting married in Rohtak.                                                     

As proof, they had submitted a marriage invitation which gave the date of marriage as 4 February 2014. But while applying for classes they stated themselves as unmarried. In May 2015, the sisters complained to the police that someone has posted morphed pictures of them on the social media. Also in May 2015, the sisters said in an interview that they had been attracting undue attention where ever they go. They said that their college was receiving large numbers of RTI applications regarding their attendance and grades. Pooja told the reporter that they had no intention of fighting back in the future if they are harassed. They also said that they were asked embarrassing questions during the polygraph test. In June 2015, it was reported that newer morphed images of the sisters continued to appear on Facebook and WhatsApp. The police said that they were investigating the case.

In August 2015, the police completed its investigation and filed the charge sheet. The 200-page charge sheet contained statements of 50 witnesses and included the report of the lie-detector test. The media reports said that the statement of the woman who shot the video was also included. She had allegedly said that no molestation had taken place and a mobile phone was given to her by one of the girls. The police said the polygraph test of the accused boys was found to be credible.

Events like this are only creating more problems for the women. If girls like these sisters will continue to do such a shameful things just for some money and publicity, then the girls in real need would be ignored thinking that it might be some drama. Such incidents must be looked into and any woman doing such a thing really needs to think about the whole women community and not just about themselves.