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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

'Dehati aurat' controversy threatens Indo-Pak talks

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 29, 2013
First Published: 18:06 IST(29/9/2013) | Last Updated: 07:54 IST(30/9/2013)

A major controversy erupted on Sunday over Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif purportedly calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a "dehati aurat" (village woman) during a breakfast meet with two journalists in the US.

The controversy has its roots in a comment by Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir on Geo TV that Sharif had used the "dehati aurat" description while meeting him and NDTV's Barkha Dutt on Saturday.

Sharif was reportedly unhappy that Singh had complained to US president Barack Obama about Pakistan.

Dutt, however, said on Twitter, "this (Mir's version) is a distortion entirely" and that Sharif had said "nothing of this kind".

Dutt said there were bits in the interaction that were off the record and added the bits that were off record did not include any pejorative word about the PM.

She wrote in a series of tweets that Sharif had told an allegorical tale about a dispute between two villagers, one of them a woman. The story ended with how fights should be settled. Sharif's account was all about how disputes should not involve third parties. 

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Following the row, Mir also tweeted Sharif had said nothing derogatory about Singh.

As the two journalists tried to put a lid on the controversy, playing out barely a few hours before Singh and Sharif were to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi waded into the row.

"How dare you (Sharif) address my nation's Prime Minister as a village woman? There cannot be a bigger insult of the Indian Prime Minister," Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial face for the general elections due in 2014, said at a rally in New Delhi. 

"We can fight with him (Singh) over policies, but we will not tolerate this. This nation of 1.2 billion will not tolerate its Prime Minister's insult."

(With inputs from agencies)

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