Women attending a literary meet roughed up Maharashtra minister Laxmanrao Dhoble on Sunday evening after he termed agitations demanding justice for Dalit rape victims a waste of time.
The water supplies and sanitation minister, a Dalit himself, also had footwear thrown at him.
“Time should not be wasted in staging dharnas and agitations for rape victims because they dilute the gravity of the case,” Dhoble said during the concluding session of the Annabhau Sathe Sahitya Sammelan at the MLA hostel here.
Discussing the issue of atrocities on women, he said protests would not curb such crimes and advised rape victims to concentrate on raising their children.
“The children (of rape victims) should be given proper education. Teach them law and then ensure that the culprits are punished through the law of the land,” he added.
Infuriated by the advice, women roughed up Dhoble, a NCP leader, at the venue when he tried to get into his car to leave. Amid chaos, Dhoble managed to leave.
Dhoble denied being assaulted at the meet commemorating Dalit writer Sathe, but was silent on his advice for rape victims and those who fought for them.
“Supporters of Eknath Awhad, president of the sammelan, raised slogans during my speech and my supporters responded in a similar manner. That is all. I was not beaten up by anybody,” he said on Sunday.
Awhad said, “It was unfortunate that a minister offered such insensitive advice.”
Dhoble had courted controversy in January by reportedly justifying the alleged stripping of a Dalit woman in Satara district by an upper caste family. Police have not received any complaint from either Dhoble or organisers of the festival.