The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is facing criticism over the Unnao and Kathua rape cases, on Friday accused the Opposition, especially the Congress, of adopting the “pick and choose” policy of condemning rape incidents and crime against women.
Addressing a press conference, BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi questioned the candle light vigil taken by the Congress Thursday night at the India Gate in condemnation of the Unnao and Kathua rape incidents. “During the 1984 riots, violence against women took place, they were ill-treated. Rapes happened during that time. But there was no candle march for those incidents. There were many other cases like these including Nirbhaya, Nagaon. But no candle march took place then.Why? So, they (Congress) should stop this pick and choose policy. Women exploitation should be looked from just one perspective and condemned equally,” said Lekhi.
“You see their plan, first shout ‘minority, minority’, then ‘Dalit, Dalit’, and now ‘women, women’ and then try to somehow fix blame of state issues on the Centre. All this while ignoring the strict action being taken by state governments,” she added.
Speaking about the Kathua rape-murder case, Lekhi said her party has not shied away from condemning the act. “A fair probe was done in the matter, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed and six-seven people were arrested,” she said adding that two MLAs who supported the Kathua accused at rallies in Jammu and Kashmir had been ‘misled’.
“They should not have protested. They should have ideally not commented until an investigation was conducted. The J&K police conducted a thorough investigation and have arrested the accused,” she added.
The BJP spokesperson advised all people to refrain from making statements and let the law take its course in both the cases. “Allow law to take its course before opening your mouth,” she insisted.
On the Unnao rape case, Lekhi said, “The incident took place 10 months ago and the victim had not mentioned the name of the BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar when the police took the statement before the magistrate. It was later that the woman, in a letter to PM Narendra Modi and CM Adityanath, accused the MLA of rape and the investigations began.Currently, Sengar is being questioned by the CBI, but his brother Atul Singh was arrested for assaulting the victim’s father.”
She also highlighted a rape-and-murder case from Nagaon, Assam where a 12-year-old girl, was raped and burnt alive by three individuals including one named Zakir Hussain. “If the media believes that the law will take its course in that case, then why do you think justice will not be done in Unnao and Kathua cases? There should be no politicisation of the rape cases. Nobody has reported anything about Zakir Hussain. All the victims deserve justice,” said Lekhi.
Union ministers condemn Kathua, Unnao rape incidents
Meanwhile, Union minister Smriti Irani said stern action will be taken against those found guilty in the Unnao rape case. “I appeal to the people to have faith in the legal process…stern action will be taken as per the provisions of the Constitution against those responsible (for the incident),” she said.
“The CBI is investigating the matter…our government is with the victim’s family,” the Union Information and Broadcasting minister added.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi also condemned both the rape incidents and said, “I am deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act asking for the death penalty for rape on children below 12 years”.
Apart from a few Union ministers who have spoken up on the Kathua rape case, most BJP leaders have remained tight-lipped on the gruesome rape incident. On Thursday, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh had tweeted about the case advocating a punishment so severe “that we can make an example of them for generations”.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke for the first time over Kathua rape and murder incident and said, “The victim’s family should get justice.”
“The family belongs to nomadic tribe of Bakkarwal community and has been facing threats from the groups protesting against police action. The Centre is also monitoring the situation,” he said adding that the home ministry is in touch with the state administration.
Rahul Gandhi questions PM Modi’s silence
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and said the latter’s silence in the matter is unacceptable. Taking to Twitter, he said, “Mr Prime Minister, your silence is unnacceptable. 1. What do YOU think about the growing violence against women and children? 2. Why are accused rapists and murderers protected by the state India is waiting.”
Mr Prime Minister, your silence is unacceptable.
1. What do YOU think about the growing violence against women & children?
2. Why are accused rapists and murderers protected by the state?
India is waiting.#SpeakUp
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 13, 2018
The rape and murder case of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua and the rape of a minor girl in Unnao by BJP MLA has shocked the nation with protests being organised in various places.