A day after Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav's controversial comment that death penalty for rape was excessive as "boys make mistakes", the SP on Friday seemed to be in fire-fighting mode with Yadav's son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav saying rapists should be dealt with the harshest punishment.
But his father sought to shift the blame on media and charged it with reporting his comment in a manner as if he were siding with rapists. "But it is good…it would trigger a debate in the country over death penalty for rapists," he said at a rally in Sambhal.
"Law would be misused if death penalties are awarded to rape convicts. An innocent must not get punished. Those who file false rape reports must not go unpunished," the SP chief said.
Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the comment, the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday sent him a notice and sought an explanation.
The commission has given Yadav three days to explain, failing which he will have to appear before it. NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma also wrote to Akhilesh, requesting him to examine the matter and take action as per law.
Yadav's comment has invited the ire of not only women activists but political parties as well. The Left parties on Friday demanded an apology from the SP chief. "One may oppose death penalty for rape offenders, but to trivialise rape as a 'small mistake' is most shocking and condemnable," CPM politburo member Brinda Karat said.
Activists have also called on women across India to boycott Yadav's party. "A mere apology won't do. Women across India should boycott the SP," said Ranjana Kumari, president of Women's Power Connect, a coalition of women's organisations.