As the outrage continued over the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old student, Congress on Monday expressed solidarity with the protestors but appealed to them not to allow anti-social elements defame the agitation.

The party also gave an assurance that the government will not spare anybody found involved in the incident and hit out at BJP over its demand for a special session of Parliament to discuss the issue, alleging that the opposition party was “politicising” the matter.

“Our emotions are not very different from that of those protesting the incident on the streets... Congress is in favour of speedy trial of the case by a fast-track court on the basis of day-to-day hearing.

“We are making an appeal to the protestors to maintain calm and law and order and have confidence in the government.

The government will not spare anybody found involved in incident,” party spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters in New Delhi.

As BJP upped the ante against the government on the incident seeking a special session to discuss it, Mr. Alvi said that it was unfortunate that the opposition party was trying to get “political mileage” even from an issue like rape.

“The incident had happened on December 16 when the Winter Session was running. The session came to a close on December 22. In the four days that the House functioned after the incident, BJP did not raise any such demand.

“Now, they are demanding a special session. This is the character of BJP. When the session is on, they do not allow its functioning and when there is no session, they demand a special session. They are only doing politics over the incident,” he said.

Asked about the police lathi-charge on women and media personnel during the protest on Sunday, Mr Alvi said it was “regrettable” and “those responsible for it will be punished“.

“The protestors should be very cautious and anti-social elements must not be allowed to the defame the agitation,” he added.

Mr. Alvi said that the government and the party have taken the rape incident very seriously and that is why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a televised message to the nation on the issue expressing the government’s resolve in that regard.

“The government has accepted almost all the demands. A committee has been set up, which will submit its report within 30 days. Whether there is a need to increase punishment in rape cases or amend laws, the government will act as per the recommendations of the committee.

“It is for the first time that a message to the nation by the Prime Minister has been aired on such an issue. The Prime Minister has tried to give a message that our emotions are connected with the emotions of all people who are distressed with the incident,” the Congress spokesperson said.

Mr. Alvi said that the incident is not just rape but something that will put even a devil to shame. “We are committed to ensuring strict punishment to the perpetrators without delay,” he said.


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