The spat between Samajwadi Party general secretary Beni Prasad Verma and Labour Minister Dr Waqar Ahmad Shah in Bahraich on Sunday took a curious turn with State Women Commission chairperson Dr Ranjana Bajpai rubbishing Verma’s charges of sexual harassment of a SP leader Gudia Pathak by a police officer close to the minister.
Verma had last week accused Dr Shah of shielding an additional SP of Bahraich Hiralal who had allegedly raped Gudia Pathak. Verma had produced the woman before media to substantiate his charge against the minister.
However the woman commission, which probed into the charges, found that the allegations were baseless. Dr Bajpai told newsmen in Faizabad on Sunday that commission member Shahin Fatima investigated the matter and found the charges were false and baseless.
Dr Bajpai said how could a woman like Gudia could be silent after repeated rapes. Dr Bajpai said such women could not tolerate sexual harassment. Without taking name of Verma, the commission chairperson said “some people have been unnecessarily making it an issue”. She said the issue should not be stretched after the commission’s findings.
Gudia, who is president of SP women cell in Ekauna (Bahraich), had charged the additional SP of sexually exploiting her for long. She alleged that the minister had been providing protection to the officer. However Dr Bajpai said the probe report also included the earlier findings of District Magistrate Shankar Lal Pandey in which the police officer had been exonerated of the charges. Dr Bajpai said there were “strong-muscled women in the Samajwadi Party and there is no question of their exploitation”. She questioned if Gudia was victim of rape why she kept quite for a long time.
The fracas between Verma and Dr Shah has been continuing even after the chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav publicly expressing displeasure over it. Verma said on Saturday that there was no question of being silent on the issue. He said the minister had been trying to communalize the issue with the help of criminals in Bahraich. In a counter attack the minister said that Verma had been shielding criminals. The minister said Verma had tarnished the image of the party. However Verma said that the minister by fanning communalism in the district had defamed the chief minister and the party.
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