In an apparent bid to downplay recent criminal acts by political leaders, Punjab chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday blamed "degeneration of society" for increase in crime against women in Punjab, and stressed that "such incidents occur in every civilised society".
Badal was replying to media queries on reports of eve-teasing leading to violence. He was speaking at the residence of the SAD's Bholath MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur, who is on bail after partly serving a jail sentence for forcible abortion of her daughter who died later.
While an assistant sub-inspector (ASI), who was resisting harassment of his daughter, was shot dead by the SAD's since-ousted district unit general secretary Ranjit Singh Rana in Amritsar last week, a group of miscreants attacked a TV news reporter in Jalandhar on Monday after he tried to save a girl from molestation. Not ready to take responsibility for alleged police inaction in these cases, Badal told reporters: "Every time such a crime against women occurs in the state, I get hurt personally. But, you can't judge the situation on the basis of two or three such incidents in isolation." He said the government's responsibility was to arrest the culprits, "and we have done that within 24 hours".
Referring to the August shooting incident in Wisconsin, Badal remarked, "Even in the US, Sikhs were killed in firing inside a gurdwara." The veteran leader also underlined that while "several states in the country are witnessing bad state of law and order, Punjab is considered the only state where communal harmony is intact, due to government's efforts".
Going further, Badal opined that there was a need to "improve" society as well, adding that the state would consider amending the law to enhance punishment for crimes against women.
On the alleged patronisation of criminal elements in the SAD, a visibly irritated Badal said that neither he nor his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the president of the party, was aware of the antecedents of the Amritsar ASI murder accused Rana: "Such appointments are usually made at the district level." He stressed that that the SAD-BJP government was following "a policy of zero tolerance" against crime and criminals.