Why is the Congress silent on Punjab rape: Nirmala Sitharaman
The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh faced much criticism after the Hathras woman was cremated in the dead of the night without her family’s approvalUpdated: Oct 24, 2020, 18:06 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday questioned the Congress’s silence over the alleged rape and murder of a six-year old Dalit girl in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur this week while hitting out at the party’s “selective outrage” over crimes against women. The girl’s family is from Bihar.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said rape and crimes against women cannot be linked to politics. She questioned whether Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who visited the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman allegedly raped and murdered in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras to seek justice for her, will do so for the girl in Punjab, where the Congress is in power.
“No rape should be politicised; it is despicable that rapes happen and justice is delayed in some cases. And all political parties together will have to make sure that the system responds and justice is served in time. But because we want our political games to be played, we are selective about voicing horror when it is in some states and remain in complete silence when it is in state’s governed by Congress,” she said.
She said it is unfortunate that the demand for justice that was raised in the BJP-ruled state is missing when it comes to cases from Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Punjab.
“The pretentious Congress has not said a word. The tweet-friendly Rahul Gandhi has not tweeted on the Hoshiarpur incident. There is been no outrage; no picnic either.”
The BJP leader also questioned the silence of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) over the incident. “Did [RJD leader] Tejwasvi Yadav, who campaigned [for the Bihar election] with Gandhi not ask why he is silent. That child was from Bihar. Is RJD not answerable to that family,” she said.
Criticising the RJD for not speaking up for women’s safety, she said, the party’s leaders have a poor track record. Citing a media report from January 2, 2008, she said, “In 2008, there were allegations against the RJD brothers for eve-teasing in Delhi so it does not affect them. During the jungle raj in Bihar, we know what the situation of law and order was; senior officials’ wives were not spared.”
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh hit out at BJP leaders Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar for their comments over the Hoshiarpur rape-murder case, dubbing their remarks as “political puffery” with no substance or basis to support their criticism.
Singh rejected the BJP’s attack on his government as well as the Gandhis. Amarinder Singh said contrary to what these leaders were claiming, there was no comparison between the Hoshiarpur and the Hathras case. He pointed out that in the Hathras case, the Uttar Pradesh government and police “did not only fail” to initiate stern action but in fact was seemingly “trying to cover up” the matter to benefit the upper-caste accused.
This, he said, was in sharp contrast to the prompt action taken by the Punjab Police, who immediately arrested the accused and is now preparing to file the challan within a week.
The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh faced much criticism after the Hathras woman was cremated in the dead of the night without her family’s approval.
Members of Parliament (MPs) from several parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were manhandled by the police when they tried to visit the woman’s family in Hathras.
Referring to the MPs’ statements about the Hathras incident, the minister said, “The BJP stands with all those who want to give justice to the family in Hoshiarpur. When there was something in Hathras, 35 senior MPs of the party [Congress] from all over the country made statements on Twitter and wanted to go marching to Hathras asking for justice. Where are those 35 today?”
The minister said while the BJP government is accused of clamping down on freedom of expression, incidents of police action against journalists are being reported from the Congress-ruled states of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
“Many derogatory remarks were made about the PM [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] and the [Union] home minister [Amit Shah], has there been any action... There is so much being said about freedom of expression being under threat but it is only in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. The Congress DNA is to suppress freedom of expression.”
Reacting to Sitharaman’s remarks, RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwary said, “The RJD is sensitive to women issues. After all whose rule is there? Is Tejashwi Yadav responsible for everything? It seems BJP do not have any issue to highlight and they are trying to drag his name in anything. People of Bihar will teach them a lesson.”
(With inputs from agency)