Name the law after her, he says; Congress distances itself from his views

In remarks that can stoke a controversy, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday favoured making public the identity of the 23-year-old gang rape victim wondering what interest is served by keeping her name under wraps.

The Minister of State for Human Resource Development also said the revised anti-rape legislation should be named after the victim if her parents did not have any objection.

“Wondering what interest is served by continuing anonymity of #DelhGangRape victim. Why not name&honour her as a real person w/own identity?” he asked on micro-blogging site Twitter.

“Unless her parents object, she should be honoured&the revised anti-rape law named after her. She was a human being w/a name,not just a symbol.”

Under the law, the identity of a rape victim cannot be disclosed and printing or publishing the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom rape is committed is an offence under Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Mr. Tharoor’s comments came close on the heels of the Delhi Police registering a case against an English daily for publishing material which could lead to identification of the victim.

His comments sparked instant reactions on Twitter with people supporting and questioning his suggestions.

“Why are you after creating honours, idols and temples again instead of making real changes to criminal justice system?” Chirdeep, one of the users, asked.

Anil Wanvari, however, wrote: “A good suggestion. This is exactly what I had recommended four days ago. Cheers!”

The girl was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

Activist Kiran Bedi said she supported Mr. Tharoor’s suggestion about naming the new law against rape after the Delhi girl’s real name.

She said that “in naming a law after her, we immortalise her will to fight and live, not on the act of rape. “This way, we may remove the stigma,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Congress steered clear of the Minister’s controversial remarks.

“It is his personal opinion,” said party spokesman Rashid Alvi when asked to comment on Mr. Tharoor’s remarks.

A senior Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, threw the ball in the government’s court noting that Mr. Tharoor was a member of the Union Council of Ministers. “Let the government react to it. We have nothing to say,” he said.

In 2009, Mr. Tharoor had courted controversy when he tweeted saying that he would travel in “in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows.”

The issue caused a lot of political uproar.

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