He had called her a servant of Kanda; apologises after public outcry

Haryana Labour and Employment Minister Shiv Charan Sharma has landed in a controversy after calling suicide victim, Geetika Sharma, a “servant” of his former ministerial colleague Gopal Kanda who is the prime accused in the case.

Mr. Sharma, who also said the case in which Mr. Kanda was booked was not “such a big one,” came under fire on Tuesday from the BJP and women’s bodies who termed the remark insensitive, insulting and shameful.

Geetika’s brother Ankit demanded an apology from the Minister.

“This isn’t such a big case. He [Kanda] appointed her [Geetika] his servant by mistake,” Mr. Sharma, a Congress leader, said referring to the Geetika suicide case, while participating in jailed Kanda’s birthday celebrations organised by his supporters in Sirsa on December 29. Geetika was an employee of the now defunct MDLR airline owned by Mr. Kanda.

As the remark sparked an outrage, Mr. Sharma apologised saying he had not said anything against the girl, who was like his “daughter.” He was misunderstood and the remark distorted.

“I haven’t said anything about the girl. All the government employees are servants only... I was misunderstood. If I have hurt anyone’s feelings I am apologising for it.”

Mr. Sharma also sought to downplay the controversy, saying the Kanda case was in court.

“I respect the court and the court will decide whether he is guilty or not. If he has committed a crime, the court will charge him otherwise he will be released. The CBI is investigating the case. Within a few days we will get the result of the investigation,” he added.

The Opposition INLD demanded Mr. Sharma’s resignation from the Ministry for “pre-judging” the Geetika case.

“The Minister by casting aspersions in a case which is under trial has tried to pre-judge the judicial process,” INLD secretary general Ajay Chautala said in a statement.

BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi criticised Mr. Sharma calling his remark unfortunate and warned that people’s anger would rise because of such “insensitive” comments.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the party would talk to Mr. Sharma as he was not aware of the remark but stressed political leaders should make comments very carefully.

“He is insulting the girl [Geetika] by calling her as Kanda’s servant. The question should be, why the girl committed suicide,” said National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Mamata Sharma. BJP’s Smriti Irani said the remark was extremely condemnable, especially when the atmosphere was surcharged after the death of the December 16 Delhi gang rape victim.

More In: National | News | States