Rahul asks PM to speak up on violence against women
New Delhi, Apr 13 : Congress president Rahul Gandhi today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on violence against women and children, saying it was “unacceptable” and India was waiting for him to speak up.
The Congress chief’s comments come a day after he led a midnight march to India Gate to protest the Kathua and Unnao minor rape cases and said it was time for Modi to walk the talk on ‘beti bachao’ (save the girl child).
Directly addressing the prime minister on Twitter today, Gandhi also asked why accused rapists and murderers were “protected” by the state.
“Mr Prime Minister, your silence is unacceptable.
“1. What do YOU think about the growing violence against women and children?
“2. Why are accused rapists and murderers protected by the state?
“India is waiting,” Gandhi tweeted, using the hashtag “SpeakUp”.
Earlier in the day, he thanked “thousands of men and women” who stood with him in protesting the rising acts of violence against girls and women and said their battle for justice would not be in vain.
Gandhi was joined last night by his sister Priyanka, her husband Robert Vadra and scores of Congress leaders, party workers and others, some carrying candles and placards against the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir while demanding urgent action against the perpetrators of the two incidents.
In Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community disappeared near her house on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.
A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.
In Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, a teen alleged that she was raped by ruling BJP legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was detained for questioning early today. She alleged she was raped by the MLA at his residence on June 4, 2017 where she had gone with a relative seeking a job.
After filing of the case, her father was booked by the police under the arms act on April 3 this year and put in jail on April 5.
Frustrated with the alleged inaction and coercion from powerful people, the victim attempted self immolation in front of Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath’s residence on April 8. The next day, her father died in jail with post- mortem suggesting serious injuries on his body.
Last night during the march, amid slogans against the BJP and the Prime Minister, Gandhi said the women of the country are afraid to go out today and the government must ensure their safety.
“We are here against crimes being committed against women, against rapes, violence and murder and the government must act on this. This is a national issue and not a political one,” Gandhi said at the march in the heart of the national capital.
“This is about our women. Thousands are present here including the common people and people from all parties. This situation is such today that one after another incident of murder, rape and violence is taking place in various parts of the country. We are standing here against that and we want the government to act,” he said.
Amid slogans being raised against the government at the protest march, Gandhi said the women of the country are afraid to go out today and the government must ensure their safety and help them live in peace.
On the Modi government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative, Gandhi said it was the right slogan and the Prime Minister must start work on ‘Beti Bachao’.
“Today, India’s women are afraid of coming out in public. Women and girls are being killed and raped. We want that the government should resolve this issue so that the Indian women can come out on the roads and live a life free of fear.
“This is a national issue and not a political one. It concerns our women. People of all parties, common people and women are here. I only want to say that the government should do something about the plight of women and the crimes against them,” he said.
Several people were seen having brought their children as well, but at times, the chaotic crowd appeared getting out of control and Priyanka Vadra was shoved by some, prompting her to ask people to maintain calm and remember the “cause” for which they had come there.
Her husband Robert Vadra said the country needs a change where women could feel safe.
Some Congress leaders asked the people in the march to keep it a “silent” protest, even as a few were seen taking selfies as well.
The Congress leaders present at the protest march to the India Gate, which in the past has seen a huge protest in the Nirbhaya rape case, included Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid, Ashok Gehlot, Ajay Maken, Sushmita Dev, Haroon Yusuf, Randeep Surjewala and Ambika Soni.
Azad said the Modi government was sleeping and those facing the biggest threat were the daughters of the country during the current regime.
Several Congress leaders also poked fun at the Modi government’s Beti Bachao slogan, saying the daughters were not safe in the country.
Announcing the march, Gandhi had tweeted in the evening, “Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does.”
Yesterday, Gandhi had expressed anguish and shock on the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, and attacked the BJP government in UP for failing to act against its MLA, who is an accused in the Unnao rape case of a 17-year-old girl.
“How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened at #Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?” he said.
The Kathua girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from a spot near her house on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.
A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.
Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal rape and murder. The city’s bar association has opposed the action against the accused and alleged that minority Dogras were being targeted.
Gandhi joined the protest near the Man Singh Road at 11.55 pm.
The police had barricaded all the routes leading to India Gate.