Union minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah apologised on Friday for his comment that "men are scared to talk to women, fearing they might end up in jail". "I apologise if I said something I did not mean," CNN-IBN quoted Abdullah as saying.
However, he blamed the media for kicking up a storm over his comment, which comes against the backdrop of sexual harassment allegations against Justice (retired) AK Ganguly and Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, and a growing debate over women's security at workplace.
Earlier in the day, Abdullah said, "We don't want women as personal secretaries. Men are scared to talk to women, fearing they might end up in jail."
The leader of the National Conference (NC), ruling party in Jammu and Kashmir, added, "Rapes are increasing. I don't blame women for it. The society is to be blamed."
His comments evoked sharp reactions on social network site Twitter.
Omar Abdullah, the central minister's son and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, tweeted, "I hope dad apologises for the misplaced attempt at humor."
"I'm sure the attempt wasn't to trivialise the important issue of women's security."
Social activist and retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi said on the social network site, "When men say they are afraid of hiring or talking to women as Farooq Abdullah did, they are visibly a victim of their own insecurity!"
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani's reaction was, "It's a demeaning comment by a senior politician like Farooq Abdullah."
However, Ambika Soni, a leader of NC ally Congress, defended Abdullah. "He is a broad-minded person. I don't think he said it in a serious manner."