President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee on Thursday found himself in the thick of a controversy over his remarks that “dented and painted” women protested against the gang-rape in New Delhi.

Calling the anti-rape agitation a nautanki (drama), he said the women protesters were good looking but did not exactly look like students.

“Students walking the streets with candles... going to discotheques... our days as students were different. These people did not look like students to me”, Mr Mukherjee told a TV channel.

He also said that the agitators had little connection with ground realities.

Mr. Mukherjee’s remarks were quickly criticised by the political opposition as well as the civil society. His sister Sharmishtha Mukherjee responded saying she was shocked by his statement.

Apologising later, Mr Mukherjee said it was not his intention to either hurt or insult women. His remarks were taken out of context. He said the agitation was justified and the protesters wanted to press for action by the Delhi government.

Mr Mukherjee said that the administration, whether in New Delhi or Kolkata, needed to be firm and quick with the prosecution in such cases so that the culprits get the message that they will face action if they commit “such a heinous crime.” A recently elected MP, Mr. Mukherjee won the by-election for Jangipur in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district with a thin margin after his father vacated it on entering the presidential race.