Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has come under severe flak for his allegedly insensitive remarks in the State Assembly in connection with the gang rape of two minor girls on a beach.
“When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police,” Sawant had said on Wednesday, during a debate on a calling attention notice in the House.
Sawant, who also holds the Home portfolio, squarely put the blame on the parents and said said they have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their children and hinted that they should not let their children, particularly minors, out at night. “We blame the police… but I want to point out that of the 10 youth who went to the beach for a party, four stayed on the beach the whole night… two boys and two girls. Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches,” he said, NDTV reported.
“They were on the beach the whole night, two boys and two girls,” said Sawant.
His shocking comments trying to abstain responsibility for the heinous crime created a furore with Opposition party members demanding his resignation and stating that Goa has become unsafe for women under BJP rule.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala slammed the CM in his tweet stating that the CM should quit and go home for such preposterous ‘pearls of wisdom’! While the Goa Congress spokesperson Altone D’Costa on Thursday lamented that the law-and-order situation in the coastal state has deteriorated. “Why should we fear while moving around at night? Criminals should be in jail and law-abiding citizens should be out freely moving around,” he said.
Calling Sawant’s statements as “disgusting”, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai said that The safety of citizens is the responsibility of police and state government. “If they can’t provide it to us, the CM has no right to sit in the post,” he added.
Roahn Khaunte, an independent MLA, tweeted, “It is shocking that @goacm is blaming parents for allowing their children to venture out in the night claiming that it is not safe. if State govt can’t assure us our security, who can give it? Goa has a history of being safe state for women, that tag is being lost in @BJP4Goa rule,” tweeted Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte.
Four men, including a government employee (a driver with the state agriculture department), posed as policemen, and raped the two girls after beating up the boys who were with the girls on Benaulim beach, around 30 km south of Goa’s capital, on Sunday (July 25). The police are yet to convey to the agriculture department the crime committed by their employee.
Sawant told the Assembly that all the four accused have been arrested.
During the discussion in the House yesterday, an MLA had claimed that an “influential person” was trying to protect the accused, while another Opposition member had alleged that a minister was calling the police and trying to influence the investigation.
Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had expunged the remarks from the proceedings.