Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur stirred a hornet’s nest on Thursday when he described rape as a social crime, saying “sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong”.
He also insisted that governments could not ensure that women do not get raped, triggering angry reactions from the Congress.
“It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman. It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong,” Gaur told reporters in Bhopal, in the latest controversial remarks by a politician to shrug off his failure to check increasing incidents of rape.
Gaur, who is from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said on Thursday that the crime of rape can only be considered to have been committed if it is reported to police.
In adjoining UP, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle and Public Work’s Department (PWD) minister Shivpal Singh Yadav blamed the media for “blowing” criminal incidents in the state out of proportion.
“Uttar Pradesh is a big state but when compared, the incidents of crime and rape in other states is more, than here, but the incidents taking place here are blown up by the media”, he told reporters.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi spoke up in the political debate, emphasising that “changing mindsets” was a major challenge that needed to be addressed urgently.
“There can be no development, no prosperity and no progress if such barbarism is allowed to continue,” he said.
Gandhi’s remarks came in the backdrop of a woman in his constituency, Amethi, filing a complaint that she had been gang-raped by men with whom she had a property dispute.
“I am extremely saddened to learn of an alleged rape incident in Amethi… or other incidents reported from different parts of the country. This is unacceptable,” he said.
Gandhi’s remarks were echoed by the chief of the party’s women’s wing, Shobha Oza.
“Be it Gaur or Akhilesh, if anybody gives such statements while occupying a position of responsibility, it is condemnable,” she said.
(with inputs from agencies)