BJP leader and TikTok star Sonali Phogat has been caught on camera physically assaulting Sultan Singh, the market committee secretary in Hisar, Haryana. The video has not gone viral on social media. As per Phogat, Singh had made a derogatory remark against her when she had come to visit Balsamand Mandi. Even if Phogat’s allegation has any weightage, is it civil on her behalf to take matters into her own hands? If politicians do not respect law and order in our country, what precedent does it set for others?

Am I working to hear abuses from people like you? Do I not have the right to a dignified life. You …you have no right to live: Sonali Phogat is heard saying in the video.

According to Phogat, “I visited Balsamand mandi along with a few farmers and the Hisar market committee secretary Sultan Singh to inspect the arrangements for starting gram procurement there. Sultan told me that I am a charming lady and I should not be roaming in the mandis for farmers. I tried to control my anger but his words pinched me so I thrashed him.” Phogat also added that Singh had sought an unconditional apology from her, but she has filed a complaint against him, reports The Hindustan Times.

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On the other hand, Singh has alleged that he hadn’t abused her. “She said look at me and talk. Do you know me, she asked. I said I know you fought the polls from Adampur. I have noted everything and will get things done, I told her. Then she asked me, why did you oppose me in the elections? I have no family in Adhampur, I told her. I said, how will I vote in your constituency and you are blaming me so long after the elections. She then started saying, “You are abusing me.” I kept saying I didn’t abuse. Suddenly, I was getting slapped from all sides,” said he. The market committee secretary has also filed against Phogat, as per The Indian Express.

Even if we presume that Singh did make a derogatory remark against Phogat it is bewildering that this politician chose to take the law into her hand.

Women politicians have to endure so much sexism in our country, they have to battle stigma and stereotypes and work twice as hard to simply prove their worth. Nothing from their undergarments, to looks, is off-limits for political commentary, especially in the election season. Calling a woman politician charming is yet another way of coddling her and emulating the fact that she is not being taken as seriously as her male counterpart. Would anyone go about calling any male leader that, while he is on the field?

Having said that, violence cannot be the feasible answer to battle sexism can it? What kind of precedent does it set for the rest of the electorate? Does Phogat have no trust in due process? If someone as privileged and influential as a politician would rather turn violent than seek legal recourse, should we do the same as well?

Can one imagine the kind of furore this incident would have created, were the genders reversed here?

Also we are just going by what Phogat had to say on why she took law into her own hand. If Singh didn’t use any derogatory words, this could be pure abuse of power by a politician. Just look at the visuals here, a political figure, social media influencer, slapping and beating a government officer with a chappal, in presence of other people.

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Can one imagine the kind of furore this incident would have created, were the genders reversed here? It would have made our blood boil then, and it should do so now as well. Can violence be forgivable on grounds of gender, political affiliation? No.

If at all Singh did make an inappropriate remark against Phogat, he deserves to face legal action for it. But so should Phogat, as a crass remark doesn’t give her the right to go around beating people up.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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