Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot landed in a fresh trouble on Sunday for his remark, that murder cases after rape have increased after the law providing death sentences for rape convicts came into force. While the remark triggered criticism with several politicians condemning the statement, the chief minister later clarified that the Nirbhaya case verdict was in “good taste”.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi on Friday, chief minister Gehlot referred to the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case, which was later called as the ‘Nirbhaya’ incident. The four men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern on December 16, 2012 were hanged in Tihar jail on March 20, 2020.
“Ever since the death penalty (for rape convicts) is brought after Nirbhaya incident, the murders after rape have increased. The rapist sees that the girl will become a witness tomorrow, so he not only rapes but also kills her. This is happening across the country. This is a very dangerous trend,” Gehlot had said.
Delhi Commission for Women’s chief, Swati Maliwal condemned the remark by sharing a video of the chief minister’s statement on Twitter and said such statements of politicians break the morale of all victims. “Today barbaric rapes are taking place in the country. The law was made after great difficulty. Such statements of politicians break the morale of every victim. The job of leaders is to give women safety and not to make unnecessary statements,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
Later, Maliwal told ANI, “Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot should stop using the language of rapists, the way he made fun of Nirbhaya has hurt the sentiment of rape victims. We struggled a lot to bring the law that rapists of small children be hanged.”
Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi said Gehlot’s statements were embarrassing and painful. “It’s a very embarrassing statement, this is painful, especially to those families and girls who’ve been victims such of heinous crimes. He (CM Gehlot) has made fun of Nirbhaya, the law was made by their government,” she told ANI.
She further said girls were being murdered even before the provisions under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 also known as the Nirbhaya Act was brought by the then Congress-led UPA government to hang the rape accused. “Even, before the provision came, girls were murdered. This shows their (CM Gehlot) mentality of supporting culprits while they don’t have sympathy for victims. The law isn’t bad, people’s mentality is. He must apologise and should give his resignation,” she said.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the chief minister’s statement was “unfortunate”. “In the last three years, Rajasthan has become the centre for atrocities against young innocent girls. Nothing can be more unfortunate that the issue is being twisted by making controversial statements to hide their failures,” said Shekhawat.
Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Rajendra Rathore said Gehlot’s statement is “unfortunate and shameful”.
Rathod also referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2020 data in which Rajasthan was reported to have registered the highest number of rape cases in the country followed by Uttar Pradesh. Though the state continues to top in rape cases in 2020, the number of such cases (5997) has declined by 11.45% in comparison to 2019, the NCRB data shows.
Rathore said the statistics of NCRB and police report show that the state ranks first in the country in rape cases. He also claimed that from January 2020 to January 2022, 4,091 cases have been registered under the POCSO Act. Rathore said that in the previous BJP government, a law was made for the provision of capital punishment to those accused of raping a minor. “Unfortunately, the CM, who has failed to curb the incidents of rape of innocent girls, is now opposing the provision of capital punishment.”
However, chief minister Gehlot said the row over his statement is “rubbish”. “I said a verdict was given to hang the rapists and it was done in good taste. But the rapists now know the victims will become a witness and they murder them (victims). This is what I said,” he said, adding that he condemned the BJP for twisting his words and making it go viral.
Shashikant Sharma, OSD to CM Gehlot also defended the chief minister’s remark. “He (Gehlot) had given a statement on rising unemployment, inflation, and increasing crimes, which has been presented in a distorted manner by BJP’s IT cell,” he said.
Sharing a video of Gehlot, his another OSD Lokesh Sharma said, “Listen and understand…CM Gehlot expressed concern over the increasing trend of murder of rape victims across the country. The form in which he spoke is being made a matter of controversy without any reason. He called it a dangerous trend which is a matter of concern for all.”
(With inputs from PTI)