On 5th July 2017, CCTV cameras captured Riya Gautam being stabbed multiple times by her stalker, just 100 metres from her house in Shahdara, East Delhi. In a tragic turn of events, despite being taken to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, she died on the very next day. Gautam, 21 years old, was pursuing her graduation from the University of Delhi (DU) via the distance education mode and aspired to be an air hostess soon. Among witnesses to this gruesome incident was Piyush Sharma, a 12-year-old boy and Gautam’s neighbour, who reported that the victim was stabbed in the neck from behind. Initially, she ran into a photo studio to seek help, but finding it desolate, moved onto another nearby shop. The attacker kept following her until the neighbours began to gather, following which, he ran in the opposite direction, as per eyewitness accounts.
Incidentally, Adil, the 22-year-old attacker, was known to Gautam’s family as he had stalked her in the past too. A complaint had been registered just three months prior to this incident. After the family filed the complaint, however, he disappeared.The police informed the family that he had fled to Gujarat. Girwan Singh, the father of the victim, who works at Maulana Azad Medical College, insists that the police find Adil as soon as possible. Concerned that he is still a threat to the society, Singh persists that “he should get the death sentence”.
This incident is the latest in a string of such cases of stalking in the capital, all having ended up with the victims losing their lives. A lack of awareness and preparation in dealing with such cases, police negligence, and a serious lack of coordination have all attributed to their deaths in the past as well. Incidentally, this is tied to the bigger and often neglected issue of mental health. Perhaps it is time, along with appropriate and faster action being taken by the law-enforcement authorities, to educate the masses about mental health issues and how to deal with them too. When it comes to sidelining and ignoring mental health, the aphorism that the biggest threat lies within comes true drastically.
Image credits: victimsofcrime.org