Controversial journalist Barkha Dutt, on Monday, tweeted that she has been receiving calls from unknown numbers, harassing and abusing her. In her tweet, she demanded the Home Minister of the country, Rajnath Singh, himself intervene in the matter which is routinely dealt with by local Police.
The problem of harassment that, especially women, face on social media regularly, by doing something as basic as voicing one’s opinion is rampant. Other messages Barkha has received, including the unsolicited image of the male genital, is indeed sexual harassment and the person(s) responsible for this must be booked and an example must be set that people cannot harass women and get away with it.
However, OpIndia.com contacted two people mentioned specifically in Barkha’s tweets, Sunil Saxena and Abhishek.
Taking to OpIndia.com, Abhishek denied abusing Barkha and claimed that he had called only to confirm if the number which was circulating on social media was indeed Barkha’s as was being claimed. He said, “I haven’t abused her at all. Actually, her number is circulating on Facebook, I wanted to check if it was really her number or not. So, I called and realized that it’s actually hers. I haven’t abused her at all. We hardly even talked for 15 or 20 seconds maybe.”
Saxena appeared to corroborate Abhishek’s story that Barkha’s number was circulating on Facebook. He too claimed that he had only called to confirm if it was indeed Barkha’s number. His voice was quivering while talking to OpIndia.com. He said, “Her number was circulating on social media, so I called her. I told her my name and my address as well. And she talked politely with me as well, she asked me to further my queries on her email. So, I said that it will only take me two seconds. Then, she suddenly said, “I am reporting you, from where did you get my number and why are you calling me?” She accused me of stalking her but I haven’t stalked her at all.”
Asked him if he had a recording of the call, Saxena said that he did not. “That was the mistake I made.”
Saxena further said that he has been receiving calls himself after his number was made public and is feeling threatened. “People have been abusing me, I have been receiving calls from numerous numbers. The Police has contacted me as well, demanding to know my details. Apart from that, others have also called me on my number giving me filthy abuses. I have now started recording those calls.”
OpIndia.com was forwarded one of those recordings by Saxena where he claims that he was abused. In the call recording, a person can be heard abusing him in filthy abusive language and appeared to be threatening him.
Since then, Barkha Dutt has herself tweeted that certain people have been circulating her number on social media and demanded that action is taken against them.
Whether calling someone on their personal number in order to verify if it actually belongs to that person can be classified as ‘stalking’ as alleged by Barkha Dutt is something the law enforcement agencies will have to decide.