“We want the Centre to pass such strong laws that these incidents never occur again”

Calling for stringent laws to fight crimes such as rape, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday that her party would cooperate with the Centre if a special session of Parliament on the issue was convened.

Ms. Banerjee said the passing away of the rape victim was “extremely unfortunate and tragic,” and added that the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) were outdated. “The need of the hour is to make strong laws so that the perpetrators of crimes like this are meted out stringent punishments,” she said, while talking to journalists on her way back from North Bengal. She mentioned that in 1990 a parliamentary consultative committee had favoured amendment to the Cr.PC in favour of women.

“The laws in our country are old ... it is up to the government to decide how they will go about it but if they decide to call a special session for making strong laws we are ready to co operate fully,” she said.

This is the first time since her split from the United Progressive Alliance in September that she has talked of cooperating with the Congress-led alliance.“We want the Centre to pass such strong laws that these incidents never occur again. Safeguards could also be incorporated to prevent misuse,” she said, adding that there should be detailed discussions and opinion should be sought from all political parties and organisations that dealt with such issues.

The Trinamool Congress chairperson said that “when such a ghastly incident occurs, the time has come for us to be united in our words and deeds so that those who perpetrate such deeds do not get mercy. And, they should also be boycotted socially.”

These comments, also posted on a social networking site, however drew some sharp reactions, with a section of the people accusing the Chief Minister of shedding crocodile tears. Mentions were made of the Park Street gang rape case, which many felt the government was trying to cover up. “We do not need new laws... We need strict implementation of existing ones,” a post said.

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