Opposition criticises him for naming rape victims in statement in Rajya Sabha
Even as he rejected the Opposition’s demand for a CBI probe into the rape and murder of three girls in Bhandara district of Maharashtra last month, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde committed a major faux pas by naming the victims, all minors, while making a statement in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Opposition MPs, including the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arun Jaitley and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Sitaram Yechury, criticised the Minister for the blunder. “We withdrew the names and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha expunged it. I have told the [Home] Secretary to conduct a probe into the matter,” Mr. Shinde told journalists outside the Parliament House.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition pointed out the gaffe, saying that the identity of rape victims, that too minors, should be kept a secret as per Supreme Court guidelines.
“I am sure it is an oversight... What should not have been done, has been done. The Home Minister should withdraw his statement and lay a fresh one in the House,” Mr. Jaitley said.
Mr. Yechury termed the naming of the minor girls “very unfortunate and very shocking.” He criticised Mr. Shinde for not being able to reflect the gravity of the crime in his statement. The government was not paying due respect to victims of such crimes, he said.
Notably, Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien, who was in the Chair, asked the media not to name the victims and warned them that ignoring the direction would be taken as a matter of privilege. However, immediately after that, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) circulated the Home Minister’s statement to the media containing the victims’ names. It was later withdrawn.
Government sources said the Ministry of Home Affairs objected to the oversight on the part of the PIB officials.
Earlier, Mr. Shinde rejected the Opposition’s demand for a CBI investigation saying that the Centre did not intervene in States’ affairs. “This is a very serious issue and concerns the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra government… the Centre does not intervene in State matters be it a Congress government or an Opposition-ruled government.” he said. He pointed out that the Maharashtra police had been pursuing different lines of investigation to nab the culprits.
Three minor girls, all below 11 years, from one family were brutally raped, murdered and thrown into an abandoned well near Murwadi village last month.
Expressing anguish and shock over the incident, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani, both of the BJP, charged that there was no law and order in Maharashtra as over 10 such incidents had taken place in the last one month. They demanded that stern action be taken against police officials for “shoddy investigation.”
Left MPs walk out
The Left MPs staged a walkout when Mr. Kurien presided over the House proceedings during a debate on the Bhandara rape case.
Mr. Kurien’s name had figured in the Suryanelli rape case in Kerala and the government defended his continuing as House Deputy Chairman despite protests from the Opposition. When Mr. Shinde was replying to questions raised by members on the rape case, the CPI and the CPI(M) members walked out.