(Nitisha Kashyap is a journalist with CNN-News18. She mainly covers crime and civic issues in the national capital region. She has narrated how an obsessed young man stalked her for 11 years.)
My mistake was I didn’t complain against him in 2004. I thought ignoring would be the best solution.
But, in my case, ignoring didn’t act as a deterrent. In fact, it encouraged him to damage me further. Ironically, despite being a crime reporter dealing with cases of stalking and molestation on a daily basis, I kept quiet. Not complaining against him was my biggest mistake. I would suggest to all the women who are reading this - do not keep quiet. Speak up. Complain. We have done nothing wrong to keep quiet or hide. Why should the culprit walk freely despite harassing us?
When the motive behind the murder of Chennai Infosys girl Swathi was revealed, I froze to death. The accused was stalking her, and when she refused his proposal for marriage, he brutally hacked her to death. I remembered my close shave with the person who had stalked me for 11 years!
I was being stalked since 2004, when I was in class X. The stalker was a year senior to me in school. It all started when his love proposal was turned down. Despite being my senior, I had scolded him in front of his classmates. But that didn’t deter him from following me persistently. From sending cards and making blank calls to following my school bus on his bicycle to know my address – he did everything. And not just that, he would keep standing outside my house to catch a glimpse of me.
It definitely petrified me. My elder brother would drop and pick me up after school hours. My mother used to accompany me to the market. I stopped going to the terrace or near the window. The blank calls increased so much that I stopped taking calls on my landline number. My father got a caller ID at home so that we pick only the known numbers.
After the stalker left my school (he didn’t get admission there because of low marks in board exams) we thought everything was over now and that he would not disturb us further.
We all got busy with life and studies. My father got transferred to various cities, we all moved with him. After completing my studies, in 2011, I got placed in one of the leading newspapers. I was transferred to Delhi in 2012.
We had forgotten about the stalker, till one day I got a mail from him. He then started sending abusive mails quite frequently. I was shellshocked to know that he was back again. Whenever he would see my byline in the newspaper, he would mail me. I was so scared that I stopped taking bylines for stories – even for my exclusive stories.
Definitely, I was damaging my career because of him.
Like in 2004, I again started ignoring him. I never responded to any of his emails, thinking he would not get to know whether the mails were being delivered to me or whether I was reading them. But those emails had an impact on me – I got scared of every new email thinking it was from him. I stopped talking to everyone.
Although he was clearly told that I was not interested in having any kind of relationship – neither friendly nor romantic - he kept pursuing.
When he didn’t get any reply from my side, he tricked me and got my phone number. He created a fake Facebook account under the name of my school friend, befriended everyone else from my batch, and then sent me a friend request. On seeing 40 mutual friends, I didn’t doubt the credibility of the account and accepted the request. One day, the same profile asked me for my phone number.
Thinking it was from my school friend, I gave my number. That friend never called or messaged, but within a week I got a WhatsApp message from him. I was shocked to know he had got my number.
His long messages were all about how much he "loved" me, how "ardently" he wanted to meet me and how he "was married to me in his mind". Scared, I again decided to ignore. When I blocked him, he created fake Twitter accounts and started trolling me there.
On WhatsApp, he messaged me from six different numbers – all blocked. All the SIM cards were taken on fake identity. He also started calling me and the era of blank calls returned.
I again stopped taking calls from unknown numbers. I even started asking my colleagues to receive those calls. But this time I couldn’t afford that because of my profession. A crime reporter gets a lot of calls – from complainants, from their sources. I started losing out on stories because I had stopped taking calls from sources who used the landline or unknown numbers to give me tip-offs.
All this while, I was pondering whether I should complain against him. Then one day, he again messaged, informing me that he had hacked my PAN card username and password. That is when I decided to stop this for once and all.
I complained against him not only to the crime branch of the Delhi Police, but also to its Economic Offences Wing (EOW). The complaint to the crime branch was that of stalking and the complaint to the EOW was about him hacking my PAN card details and about the twitter trolls.
Delhi Police acted promptly, and thankfully, the stalker is not disturbing me any more.