CBI must probe Scarlette murder: Brinda
A forceful plea was made in parliament on Tuesday for a federal probe into the alleged rape and murder of British teenager Scarlette Keeling in Goa but the government sidestepped the issue, saying it came within the purview of the state government.
"Will you lend your voice in support of a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) enquiry," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member Brinda Karat demanded of Tourism Minister Ambika Soni during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.
"There may or may not be an enquiry. We are in touch with the home ministry and the chief minister (of Goa)," Soni responded, adding, "My ministry has limited powers and restrictions on law and order."
Karat also objected to the "attitude" of Congress MP Shantaram Naik in "victimising the victim" by alluding that Keeling's family was "responsible" for her fate.
"Are you going to issue an advisory that young girls can't come alone to India?" she demanded of both Naik and Soni.
"Should young girls be allowed to move around alone on a beach at night?" Naik had wondered, even as he blamed the media for "blowing up" the case.
On her part, Soni attempted to pacify the firebrand CPI-M leader by pointing out that the Goa police had arrested one man and had filed charges.
"I have also said there should be increased punishment for rape. There should be amendments to make the law more stringent and the punishment should be such that the crime is not committed again," the minister added for good measure.
The issue arose from a question posed by Prema Cariappa (Congress) and Sushma Swaraj (Bharatiya Janata Party) on the steps the government had taken to prevent rising crimes against foreign tourists.
In this context, Soni said she had summoned a meeting here that had submitted a blueprint for creating a taskforce largely made up of ex-servicemen to supplement the efforts of the police forces at tourist spots.
"We have submitted this blueprint to the state governments but they will need some time to put the taskforce in place," the minister added.
Former Maharashtra governor PC Alexander (Independent) said this was not enough.
"This may not result in the right solution. A taskforce is not the same as a police force. If the issue is to be tackled effectively, we need a police force," he said.
"It is not just a law and order problem. Tourism is of utmost importance to the nation as our prestige is involved. I want an assurance that what will be created is a police taskforce and not one of ex-servicemen," Alexander added.
"I agree," Soni replied - and left it at that.