On September 7, 2018, Yudhishtir had undressed his wife in public and assaulted her. It took four months for him to be arrested – and soon after, he was given bail.

He hit and humiliated me in public Wife of pilot held in dowry case narrates ordealImage for representation.
news Harassment Friday, January 18, 2019 - 17:19

“That night, my mother-in-law held me down on the balcony of our house and my husband pulled my pants down. He walked back into the house, leaving me half naked and my mother-in-law followed him,” Peenu Singh recalls the harrowing events of September 7, 2018. Her husband, Yudhishtir Poonia, is a pilot with a private airline, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon from the Jaipur airport for dowry harassment – and released on bail soon after.

Yudhishtir and his mother Bimal allegedly assaulted, gaslighted and verbally abused Peenu for four years prior to the case being registered. Peenu’s ordeal is another instance of how education doesn’t prevent any man from becoming a domestic abuser, nor does it prevent any woman from becoming a victim. It took four months for Yudhishtir to finally be arrested. And apart from the criminal case, Peenu also has to fight a case in the civil court to ensure that Yudhishtir pays for the upbringing of their 2-year-old child. "So far, this does not even seem like a victory,” Peenu says.

The night of the assault

“My mother-in-law had come down from Gurgaon. My husband’s family lives there and we had moved to Bengaluru since we work here,” Peenu, a techie working with an MNC, tells TNM, “I was so shocked at the behaviour. Yes, my husband had assaulted me and abused me before, but humiliating me in public was a first. I was taken aback.”

While Peenu was left shocked after this public assault by Yudhishtir, and was in too much pain to act, she heard a stranger speaking to her husband in Kannada in the living room, 15 minutes later. When she went outside the room, she saw two police officers attached with the HAL Police Station standing in her living room and questioning her husband.

A good Samaritan who had witnessed the inhuman assault had alerted the police, and they had arrived to question Yudhishtir.

“I don’t know who, but someone had seen my husband pulling down my pants and had called the police. They took both of us to the station that night. It was around 10 am. They asked me what happened and I told them about how my husband and my mother-in-law were abusing me for dowry, and were putting pressure on me to quit my job,” Peenu says. She did not file a complaint that night because she was afraid of the consequences her 2-year-old daughter will have to face.

Before she could make up her mind, Yudhishtir ran

On September 7, Peenu told the police she would like to get the help of Vanitha Sahayavani – the women’s counselling wing of the Karnataka police. She and Yudhishtir were asked to come back the next morning to meet their counsellor.

But before Peenu woke up the next morning, Yudhishtir and Bimal had vanished along with their belongings.

“I immediately tried to call him. He had blocked my calls. WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and all other possible modes of communication were cut off,” Peenu says. When the counsellor from Vanitha Sahayavani called him, he dismissed her blatantly and refused to speak to her. 

For a month after that, Peenu travelled between her hometown Jaipur and Bengaluru to attend the counselling sessions alone. On October 5, 2018 the officials at Vanitha Sahayavani transferred the case to the HAL Police Station, and an FIR was registered against Yudhishtir and Bimal under IPC sections 498A (husband or relative of husband subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 34 (common intention), along with sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.

The ordeal with the police

Peenu alleges that for months, the police at HAL police station did not help her with the case, and that the Inspector MB Goravanakoll did not even bring her husband in for questioning.

“The day after the FIR was filed, Yudhishtir and an IPS officer came to the HAL Police Station and he signed in some registry and procured a copy of the FIR. The police informed him that he was to come in for questioning when summoned. But that never happened. Whenever I went to the station, the Inspector just dismissed me and said he would bring him in for questioning in time,” Peenu adds.

In the last week of October 2018, Peenu approached the jurisdictional DCP (Whitefield) Abdul Ahad and asked for help.

“I was running from pillar to post to get things going and the inspector did not cooperate. DCP Abdul Ahad was very helpful and he told the inspector to file the chargesheet soon,” Peenu says.

She further alleges that the Inspector sent her inappropriate texts. “He would send me messages like ‘Are you smiling? Pls smile for me.’ It made me very uncomfortable. He would randomly try to video call me and send me uncomfortable voice messages. I also informed DCP Abdul Ahad about it and he helped me out there too,” Peenu adds.

Inspector Goravanakoll was transferred, and officer Chandrakanth replaced him as the Inspector of HAL Police Station. Finally, the chargesheet was filed at the 43rd ACMM Court in Bengaluru on January 8 this year.

Finally, the police received information that Yudhishthir was attending a wedding in Jaipur and nabbed him at the airport.

Yudhishtir was produced before the court on Thursday and was granted conditional bail soon after. For Peenu, justice still seems evasive.

Peenu now has to take care of her child on her own. “I have a separate case in the civil court where the orders will be passed for the maintenance amount he should pay and this trial will take years. I don’t know if I will be able to withstand all the trauma,” Peenu says.

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